Please check out a great article by journalist and professor in WCU’s Department of Communication and Media Jesse Piersol, “What’s Growing in the Borough: the bounty of West Chester gardens,” in the July issue of the very attractive publication The WC Press, pages 33-41. You may receive or pick up a copy, or you can subscribe online for free when you look at the article here.
The article features interviews with:
• Our own gardening activists Ashlie Delshad, Margaret Hudgings, and Sallie Jones;
• West Chester University’s Joan Welch, Kate Stewart and Tyler Montgomery, about the four WCU campus gardens (see our new video featuring them here; scroll down to “The Gardens of West Chester University” and follow the link);
• Also Christina Wilcomes of Hackberry Hill Flowers and Ben Rotteveel of DutchGrown Flower Bulbs.
The article, beautifully written and illustrated with 5 garden photos, including kids gardening at the Melton Center in our community garden program there (see more here and here), ends with thoughts about how, even in difficult times, gardening can bring us a sense of tranquility and escapism.
Thanks to Jesse Piersol and The WC Press for such a great job of presenting an important local trend. May it inspire many more gardeners!
Still a couple of spaces left: West Chester Green Team is matching up residents who would like garden space with community garden plots that we have located for summer 2021: one at the Melton Center, one at Barclay Friends, and one in a private garden.
by Prof. Ashlie Delshad, WCU, summarizing her research on the topic. Photo: WCU’s South Campus garden.
My findings indicate and reinforce conclusions from prior studies that community gardens offer a myriad of benefits to the communities in which they exist. These benefits include: connecting neighbors and bridging social divides; helping individuals save money on groceries and improve the desirability of their community; and increasing access to fresh produce and improving the physical and mental health of residents.
As communities continue to grapple with the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, future pandemics, and other health or economic crises, gardens can serve as a safe haven – alleviating some of the social isolation, economic instability, food insecurity, stress and anxiety exacerbated by this public health crisis.
The social interaction facilitated by community gardening can easily take place while adhering to pandemic public health precautions, including social distancing and wearing masks, and it is inherently a safer activity as it takes place outdoors. Hence, individuals suffering the side effects of pandemic-derived social isolation can reap the social benefits of community gardening while behaving responsibly.
Social isolation due to COVID-19 coupled with financial pressures and worries about one’s health has led to an alarming uptick in mental health crises for many. The mental health benefits of community gardening can serve as a coping mechanism and outlet for folks to alleviate some of their woes.
Growing even a portion of one’s own produce through a community garden plot can also yield important economic savings to individuals, making it possible for more people to eat more healthy and varied diets.