This Is the third in our series featuring the writing of five Grow Meadville service members employed to manage gardens in the City of Meadville this summer. This week, our service members wrote letters to the Meadville Zoning and Planning Commission in support of urban agriculture in Meadville. The program is organized by Creating Landscapes Food4Thought.
I am currently working in the Grow Meadville gardens throughout Meadville. My peers and I have seen first-hand the benefits of these gardens, whether city or community. While good food is provided to the community, meaningful education is also provided. People who attend the gardens learn gardening knowledge, but also everyday life lessons. Urban agriculture provides a lot more than just gardening for the community of Meadville.
I am sincerely asking if you would take the time to think about letting Meadville continue to have Urban Agriculture, within the city limits. There are many benefits to allowing Grow Meadville to stay a part of the city. These gardens supply the city with educational resources and food, yet there is something more. I have found that these gardens are a great place for people to gather and socialize. Many neighbors now work hand in hand to secure these gardens and to grow food. I understand that these lots are bountiful (growing many things and taking lots of time), yet they are still maintained. Personally, I think an abundance of natural food and flowers are more preferred than a lot of plain grass or cold concrete. These gardens give the town life and are a unique attribute to the city. Others may say these look wild, well I say have they ever seen a garden? Of course these would not be perfectly cut shrubs, which are dull in their nature. No, these are cultivated fruits and vegetable gardens that need room and space.
Think of all the possibilities for the amount of food they could provide. They say that the city government works for the people. Why then, would the city want to take down these gardens that so obviously provide for the city? I do not mean to sound sentimental, but I would say these gardens are very important. Although, there should be more knowledge about the gardens within the community. I have seen citizens smile at the gardens and genuinely ask how they could help. While I have never seen any citizen show a smile toward an empty parking lot. Like the government, gardens are for the people, not against. The gardens bring in bees, food, and education to people. Our crest says that Meadville is the City of Trees, why can it not also be the City of Gardens? So, please deeply consider letting these gardens continue.
Over my time in Grow Meadville I’ve learned so much, not only about gardening and working as a team, I’ve also learned how to better work with the community. I’ve met a ton of new people and it’s just amazing how kind and welcoming they are. This experience has already done so much for me and my peers and it is far from over.
We need the small gardens around Meadville because they not only impact us as a community and now friends but also the pollinators and even the plants in the garden. These gardens will help out anyone that just wants to see and taste what their city has been doing with the gardens and it is also for those who need it. It has made an opportunity for me and many other and that needs to be continued.
I am writing to urge you to include the allowance of urban agriculture within city limits in upcoming zoning updates. Community gardens are an enormously important part of Meadville, bringing together people who otherwise may not have access to fresh food, social interaction and/or outdoor time. As a 15 year old, there were not many choices for summer jobs; working as an ambassador for Grow Meadville was an excellent (and socially distant) opportunity. I have personally gained invaluable connections and knowledge through the garden network such as Taylor Hinton and Lee Scandinaro. Our gardens provide beauty, food and community to our town. To get rid of them would negatively affect most, all indirectly, citizens. Please consider allowing urban agriculture in Meadville.