03/12/10 — City starts plans for proposed local produce gardening spot

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City starts plans for proposed local produce gardening spot

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on March 12, 2010 1:46 PM

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Goldsboro resident Dreamweaver talks about his ideas on community gardening during a public meeting on the topic held at City Hall Thursday night. He also told those in attendance that he would be running a pesticide-free farmer's market on George Street every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning on April 10.

Some wanted to implement garden projects in several at-risk communities across the city.

Others envisioned a large, centralized grow spot for affordable produce.

And a few simply wanted to build on efforts currently in progress at the Wayne County Public Library and Dillard Academy.

But all those who showed up at City Hall Thursday evening had one thing in common -- a desire to expand on the idea of bringing healthy food to those who need it.

More than a dozen residents came together with Mayor Al King and members of the City Council to talk about a concept many first heard about months ago when MacArthur "Genius Award" recipient Will Allen spoke about the concept of urban farming at Goldsboro High School.

Allen, who spoke then about his farm in Milwaukee -- a vibrant two-acre operation that provides produce for local restaurants and residents, inspired city staff to spearhead a Goldsboro garden, one that King and Public Utilities director Karen Brashear said could be a "game-changer" for children facing diabetes and obesity.

"This is a topic we've been talking about for some time, but we need your input as to ... how big this thing is going to be," King told those in attendance. "I am personally excited about this. We have some tremendous resources right here."

Those resources include farming experts from North Carolina State University and existing community garden projects like Dillard Academy's school farm, the Wayne County Public Library's garden and county Health Department's Mini Mobile Farmers Market, the mayor said.

And with their help, he believes Goldsboro can set an example much like Allen's.

Steve Smith, who came to the meeting representing the Wayne County Enrichment Fitness Center, agreed with King.

"My idea is to get the food to the people who can't have gardens," he said. "We can't forget the people who can't afford this food."

They are, after all, the ones most at risk of complications that stem from unhealthy eating, he added.

King nodded his head.

"Let's remember the main purpose of a community garden: To grow healthy food for those who can't get it," he said. "We are really destroying the health of our kids."

Local resident Dream-weaver said it is for that reason that children should be the most heavily involved demographic in the process.

And young people are already having success with garden projects, he said.

"I think starting with the younger people ... they love going out and digging in the dirt," he said. "The ones that seem to be working are ones with young people involved."

Other ideas included locating several gardens in the communities that need them the most and appointing a neighborhood leader to oversee each plot.

The harvest would then be sold at a centralized farmer's market.

"We're going to have to address a farmer's market," King said. "We're going to have to have some place ... to sell the product."

Thursday's meeting was a first step in a process that could take years to come to fruition.

But King said even so, it was encouraging to see so many join what could be an Allen-like "food revolution."

"We've got some people here who have already shown their enthusiasm," King said. "And that excites me."

Those who have input but were unable to attend Thurs-day's meeting are asked to contact Mrs. Brashear at 735-3329, ext. 101, or e-mail her at brashear@ci.goldsboro.nc.us