When I was a youngster in Detroit, MI, I spent a lot of time with my hands in the dirt together with the women in my household. My work in our WWII-era Victory Garden ignited in me a passion for growing and sharing food in community.
Victory Garden Foundation was incorporated in 2009 and is funded entirely by donations from individuals and businesses. Together with an all-volunteer staff, I coordinate residential volunteer Garden Work Parties and offer guidance to community garden organizers. I teach classes for volunteers and home gardeners, and I have a particular interest in developing food literacy among our youth. I am called upon regularly as a speaker at public and private events. I distribute seeds, starts, and gardening supplies. I am also a Family Herbalist and a licensed Alameda County Master Gardener. As of Earth Day 2012, there are 207 registered Victory Gardens in the bay area representing 73 acres under cultivation.
As part of my collaboration with Transition Berkeley, I coordinate the Lorin Station Crop Swap along with a sister crop swap at Ohlone Greenway. Lorin Station is uniquely positioned between South Berkeley and North Oakland and has a longstanding tradition as a community gathering place. The Ohlone Greenway, named for the indigenous people who historically lived in this region, follows a railroad right-of-way and features recreation areas, hiking and biking trails, and community art works. The Lorin Station Crop Swap is on Sundays from 1:00 to 2:00 in the afternoon. The Ohlone Greenway Crop Swap is on Mondays from 6:30 to 7:30 in the evening.
It is critical in today’s world for neighbors to come together and build community, and that’s what happens at the Crop Swaps as people share the bounty of their gardens as well as stories, news, dreams, and ideas. Neighbors share and showcase their skills for one hour and make lasting connections. They have free access to a variety of healthy foods even if they are not growing their own. Growing your food at home is good nutrition and good recreation. But gathering together and sharing it with your neighbors in community is even better! Whether you want assistance to start your own garden or to find a garden to work in, you can connect at the Crop Swaps. Best of all, it’s a place to smile!
I encourage everyone to come to the Crop Swaps. If you do not have produce to swap, please come out anyway and engage in inspiring conversation while meeting new and old neighbors. Pick out something to take home. It is also a great place to learn what’s happening in your ‘hood. Come out and enjoy an hour of fun and (usually) the music of The Crane and the Crow.