I love the idea of community. I believe that sustainability starts in the home and then the second level of sustainable evolution incorporates community. As individuals or family units we can become completely independent by building our own sustainable housing, creating our own sustainable energy sources and growing our own food. This works really well for people who enjoy isolation and have the health and ambition to do it all by themselves. It’s a great life, but some of us long for more of a community concept.
I recently visited Yarnell, AZ and found a sustainable minded bunch of individuals that joined forces and created a wonderful harmonious community. The heart of it was the Yarnell Community Garden. The community participated in numerous ways from donating the land, building supplies, garden beds, gardening equipment and water system, to participating in the actual gardening. The community also reaped the benefits with the food produced going back into the community. A good portion of the food is donated back through the Yarnell Community Center. They work on a donation basis at the garden with both the compost and food.
The gardeners average age at Yarnell Community Garden is mid sixties, the youngest just turning 50 and the oldest was 92. Obviously everyone had different abilities and limitations which is what makes the community concept work, each doing what they can. One of my favorite moments at the garden was watching Kim running with a wheel barrel full of compost and a huge smile on her face, not every 60 year old can do that but she could and she was happy to do her part. Delores at 91, found her talents in communications and PR giving us a great interview for the documentary.
Every Sunday they have meetings to discuss and plan. The garden was organized yet completely unique and eclectic. It was obviously built with teamwork and love. If you ever get a chance to visit Yarnell, AZ make sure you visit the garden. There is a list of numbers on the large shed you can call to find out more about the garden but it might be worth your while to visit on a gardening day so you can see it in motion. It really is a great model for a community garden and the strawberries are awesome!