This next post comes from Iowa member Jordan Scheibel, who is completing his 2nd term as an Energy Corps member this year!
As a student at Grinnell College, I helped start a community garden in a public park in Grinnell along with four other students as part of a summer community service project. When I joined Energy Corps and began working for Imagine Grinnell, I brought the Community Garden project with me. With support from Imagine Grinnell, I was able to spearhead an effort to expand and improve the garden, including building raised beds and a compost bin, installing rain barrels, purchasing permanent tools for the garden, and advertising plots in the garden for community use. This photo comes from a volunteer workday and workshop in April 2011 when we installed 11 sixteen foot by four foot raised beds made of cinder blocks. Eight of these plots were rented out at low cost to Grinnell residents to grow food. In 2012, the garden will rent out 10 plots for community use, put on seven workshops on gardening, and host four different youth groups for gardening education classes during the spring and summer. Any excess produce that isn’t given away to volunteers or kids participating in education programs will be donated to the local food pantry and the free weekly meal.
The Grinnell Community Garden saves energy by allowing residents to grow food right where they live. Its located within walking or biking distance of almost any part of town. With careful planning and succession planting, a family can provide many of its own vegetable from a sixteen by four foot plot. By doing all of the labor by hand and growing organically, almost all fossil fuel use can be eliminated. By teaching the value of gardening and the skills required to do it, we can help both children and adults learn to produce more of their own food and to buy more food from local producers so that their diets are less dependent on energy-intensive industrial farming.
Jordan is a New England native and recent graduate of Grinnell College. He joined Energy Corps in November 2010 as environmental program coordinator for Imagine Grinnell. Since joining, Jordan has been able to initiate and work on many projects, including improving the community garden that he helped start as a student, holding two energy showcases for the Grinnell community, teaching energy awareness workshops, and starting a municipal rain barrel sale. In addition to serving with Energy Corps, Jordan works seasonally for Grinnell Heritage Farm, a certified organic vegetable farm serving over 200 CSA members.