In our business, internet and social media are great ways to communicate, market an idea or pass on information. But reaching out to the community sometimes requires a business to be up front and in person in order to reach your clientele. Because we aren’t selling anything other than an idea or a lifestyle, it’s important we are out there face-to-face with the community. This week was a busy week for the Valencia Community Gardens (VCG) because of two important events that required our presence.
We are all volunteers so in order to reach out to our community we really have to plan, organize and get folks to help out. This past Wednesday, at the UNM – Valencia branch held there 11th Annual Wellness Expo, and because we attended last year we were invited back this year. Since we are a non-profit organization, there are no fees for the table and space. They even fed us a nice brown bag lunch. Attending these events always inspire me to do more in the community and in speaking to people you can’t help but motivate others to choose a more healthy living style. Weeks prior to any event, together as a group, we discuss what we could offer to bring folks to our table that is interesting, informational and fun. This was a no brainer – Life is a bowl of cherry tomatoes! One of our members had thought of packaging the dill seeds we harvested and dried from the garden and attaching a card to advertise our name. Another volunteered to make us a stamp for the cards. I wanted to demonstrate how to string chili ristra’s and borrowed an I.V. pole from the Nursing Dept. Another printed up some handouts explaining Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). GMO One member volunteered her olla to use on display and donated another for the annual raffle. Olla’s are used in gardens as a watering vessel. They are made of clay and buried near a plant up to its neck. You fill them with water, they usually have a lid to prevent evaporation, and they slowly seep into the roots of a plant.
Saturday morning started out with a visit from the Facebook ScOutreach kids who volunteer as they often do throughout the year, helping us prepare for the garden visitors for today’s Garden Party Tour. “Valencia Community Gardens, Wagner Farms, Tomé Art Gallery and several other area businesses situated along or near N.M. 47 hosted their first Garden Party Tour. The self-paced tour will center around activities organizers hope will encourage others to get involved with growing and processing their own fruits and vegetable” (Valencia County News-Bulletin, 9/26/13). The members came as usual to work but some helped show the kids around, and others stayed the day to help with the tours, and some brought refreshments to offer our guests. The weather was beautiful and we had the best turn out ever. We had several groups of people throughout the day, some wanted to learn how to compost, others were starting their own gardens and wanted ideas of what grows well in our area while others were just impressed with our “community” and wanted to know how to be a part of it.
It was exciting to be able to show off our garden and point out the area where we will be building our new greenhouse this fall and proudly explaining how we were one of two in Valencia County that recently were awarded the PNM Grant!
Sometimes when the week isn’t going according to plan, just showing up Saturday at the garden turns everything around. For myself this week was most rewarding just digging N dirt and talking about what I am passionate about. We, as a community, have come together to plant, grow, harvest, learn and most importantly—have fun!