“To increase our community’s ability to produce and share food grown in urban gardens by facilitating the networking of gardeners, resources, and information in a way that is easily affordable and accessible to all.”

Urban gardens are growing in neighborhoods across Alachua County: in backyards and community gardens, and at schools and community centers. They provide us with fresh, nutritious produce, right outside our front and back doors, and help to increase food security in our community while beautifying neighborhoods.

With this in mind, Florida Organic Growers funded by the Alachua Community Agency Partnership Program, is working with community partners including Slow Food Gainesville, Abundant Edible Landscapes, Edible Plant Project, Santa Fe College, and the University of Florida and many others to form Grow Gainesville, an urban gardening network. Grow Gainesville aims to help bring gardeners together and provide access to the supplies, resources, and knowledge needed to grow one’s own food.

Grow Gainesville is open to all as a member-driven organization supported by affordable annual membership dues. These dues help cover the costs of operating the network and ensure active participation from members. A large part of Grow Gainesville will be its own Garden Resource Program, modeled after Detroit Agriculture’s offerings. Members receive resources including seeds and access to tools and will be part of a growing network of gardeners and advocates working to promote and encourage urban agriculture and a thriving local food system.

Member Spotlight – Melissa DeSa

Meet Melissa:

My parents had a garden when I was growing up, although admittedly I didn’t help out much. I remember them both proudly posing for photos next to 6-foot tomato plants (I lived in Canada, where you can grow giant tomatoes), and our dog running around the yard with old corn husks.

I’ve always loved nature and plants, so when I finally had my own little piece of ground to play with in Gainesville I gave it a shot, just throwing stuff in the ground and learning by trial and error and lots of reading (which I still do!). Six years later, my garden has grown from a small experimental square to taking up a significant portion of both my front and back yard.

I don’t think I could be happy without a garden to tend; it keeps me fit, gets me outdoors, stimulates learning, hides my white Canadian skin under a tan, keeps me in tune with the rhythms of the Earth, and in the end I am rewarded with nourishing food.