Gateway Greening’s primary goal is to promote community development through its various programs and, in my role as a Youth Educator, I get to witness our organization’s mission come to life.
As a youth educator, I work with schools and teachers. Instead of handing them lessons and lesson plans, I work with them and their students and we learn together how to use the school garden as a tool for education. In this process of learning outdoors, we grow a garden and we use this as a tool to grow our community.
Yesterday, I was at Mallinckrodt School Garden dropping off the plants that Bill Ruppert, of National Nursery Products, had donated to Mallinckrodt Academy. During his visit to this school garden in April, Bill received a tour from a bunch of excited students. These students were so proud of their pollinator garden bed and thoroughly highlighted the purpose of these plants in their garden.
Bill noticed that they were in need of more pollinator plants and happily donated hundreds of dollars worth of plant material to fill in their sparse pollinator beds.
As I was unloading these plants at Mallinckrodt School Garden, a neighbor named Silvio Angeli stopped by. He wanted to see if we needed any tomato plants. He is an avid home gardener and lives a couple of houses down from the school garden and had some extra that he wanted to share with us. I was thrilled not at the prospect of acquiring the tomato plants but for the hope of gaining one more stakeholder. I told Silvio we would love to have the tomato plants. He not only gave us those plants but also turned over the bed and got them in the ground.
Gateway Greening’s community gardens not only grow food but also helps people build relationships. It is these relationships that slowly strengthen our community. There are many ways to support community gardening in St. Louis. Be sure to reach out to a Gateway Greening community garden next to where you live (map) and offer your talent or volunteer with us.
St. Louis will look very different if we all find a small way to invest back in our community and build meaningful ties and relationships with our neighbors.
Thank you Bill Ruppert and Silvio Angeli for your contribution to Mallinckrodt School Garden, a Gateway Greening project. We look forward to seeing you soon.
-Punita Patel, Gateway Greening Youth Educator