Gardening the Community is a food justice organization engaged in youth development, urban agriculture and sustainable living to build healthy and equitable communities.
GTC operates a training program created for youth from around the Mason Square neighborhood and beyond to grow fruits and vegetables on vacant and abandoned lots. Youth receive a stipend and are taught principles of urban sustainable living and urban agriculture.
To encourage a more sustainable lifestyle, all produce is delivered to market and stores with the bikes and heavy duty bike trailers to reduce our carbon foot print, and build healthy lifestyle choices. Additionally, no pesticides or herbicides of any kind are used in the food we grow, and all work is done without any major farm equipment.
In order to irrigate crops, we utilize rain collection and water conservation methods into our growing practices. This reduces our dependence on the city water supply and shows other potential gardeners how to incorporate a low-input farming practice that is practical and sustainable.
Youth participate in the GTC program throughout the four seasons, and in addition to growing food, assist in various community service activities that involve food access and food justice work in Springfield. GTC youth also provide assistance to residents in starting backyard gardens, thus encouraging families to build self-sufficiency and better health.
Youth are also engaged through field trips to farms and other non-profits and community groups to deepen knowledge of agriculture, social change, and community service. GTC regularly hosts groups from around the region to expose youth and adults to the role that urban agriculture can play in community transformation.