On Summer Sweet Potatoes

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Seeds, a community garden manual, “Reclaiming our Food”, and a Veggie Tales coloring book: I found these items on my desk Monday morning as I began my first day with Gardening for Good. Yes, it is going to be a good summer indeed.

A branch of Greenville Forward, Gardening for Good is a network of local community gardens that utilizes the energy of the community garden movement to coordinate neighborhood redevelopment efforts, improve the health of residents and neighborhoods, and transform Greenville through gardening. Gardening for Good is coordinating gardening partnerships throughout Greenville County to create a healthier, more sustainable and socially just local food system.

Not to mention the G4G director, Reece Lyerly is my hero.

This summer, I will be working with various community centers to facilitate summer garden clubs for kids. These clubs will use gardens as a medium to teach local children about environmental awareness, healthy choices, and other various life skills! Hopefully, these gardens will also show each club member the satisfaction that comes from caring for something overtime as well as observing local food systems and life cycles first hand. In addition to developing a Garden Club curriculum, I will be inventorying the over seventy area gardens that Gardening for Good partners with. With this internship, I will also be working in the Gardening for Good demonstration garden and participating in weekly gleanings at a farm in Marietta, SC.

Needless to say, I have an ambitious and AWESOME ten weeks ahead! I’m so excited to have the opportunity to focus my love of local food, nutrition, and service into this one amazing organization.

I have already been able to dive in to work, seeing what Greenville Forward and Gardening for Good  has to offer this community. I have sat in on board meetings with LiveWell Greenville, learned my way around the Chamber of Commerce, and gleaned over 400 pounds of squash to be donated to area charities. Each week, I am getting to know my garden club kids better and better; I love seeing their excitement as they dig in their gardens.

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I have been able to do plenty of gardening myself! One morning I found myself outside in the rain (thanks Tropical Storm Andrea) digging in the damp soil. Carefully, Reece and I planted sweet potato slips into the cool earth. Reece had been waiting anxiously all week for his sweet potatoes to arrive in the mail (Side note: yes, you can order sweet potatoes in the mail!). We were at the Gardening for Good demonstration garden conveniently located at the Swamp Rabbit Trail Cafe, and you betcha I got a scone before we left.

As I trudged into the office after our muddy, yet successful morning, I knew my summer had officially begun. I quickly changed into more professional clothes and, fruitlessly, tried to remove any excess dirt from my nails. In that moment, I realized that I would probably never again have clean fingernails this summer. Cool! Just don’t tell my mom, ok?

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