Path Home Shows 2015 Show Archive August 2015 Show 1535 Urban Gardening

Urban Gardening

A small flower garden at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry has been transformed into a flourishing community garden.
Urban Gardening

Urban Gardening

For more information visit these links:

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry

Oklahoma Food Security Summit

Show Details

Show 1535: Urban Gardening
Air Date: August 30, 2015



Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” Well, chew on this. Over the course of this next year, one in four Oklahoma children is at risk of going to bed hungry. It’s called food insecurity, and it’s a definition given by the USDA to households where consistent access to adequate food comes up missing at some point during the course of the year. And as troubling as those statistics are, some of the solutions to the problem are just as encouraging. This summer we traveled to some unlikely spots to meet some innovative Oklahomans trying to close the gap between the people who grow our food and the people who eat it. Joining me now is our Courtney Maye.

Courtney Maye: Well, Rob, you no longer have to live in the country to grow your favorite plants and vegetables. Gardening in cities is more popular than ever. From backyards, rooftops and vacant lots, 15 percent of the world’s food is grown in urban areas.

Courtney Maye: At the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry, what once was a small flower garden has been transformed into a flourishing community garden, producing a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Micah Anderson: It used to be a perennial like some types of flowers and perennial bushes and things like that.

Courtney: Micah Anderson is the marketing development coordinator at the Department of Agriculture and says the garden is growing not only fruits and vegetables but also relationships.

Anderson: And it’s evolved and it’s gotten better and better every year. We’ve got more participants coming out of the building to come and help, and people that work in it, they harvest and take stuff home. It’s a great to bring people together to work, taking breaks from just sitting in front of the computer, coming out to work early in the morning, doing some weeding. I think it’s just a healthy mindset just to clear your mind.

Courtney: While creating a bond among coworkers.

Sarah Rakowski: I think if it weren’t for the garden committee, I wouldn’t know half the people that I do that aren’t on the first floor and where I sit. So it’s just gotten me a little out of my comfort zone, and I’ve expanded my gardening knowledge for sure.

Anderson: It’s something that everybody can talk about regardless of what race you are, where you come from, and I’ve always noticed this about farmers, there’s no, there’s no barriers. All the barriers are broke down. So when you come to the garden all your barriers are broke down. And I grew up in a neighborhood and it was like, you know, you know we had white neighbors and Indian on one side and white on the other side, and we all helped each other and worked with each other. We were just trying to get stuff to grown and produce.

Courtney: An attitude that volunteers like Alvin Chandler hope to spread across the community. Chandler works with young people on how to plant and grow their own crops. I met up with Chandler at a community garden in north Oklahoma City.

Alvin Chandler: Most of the kids here, you know, the young men who are here, they’re involved in a program called Youth Builders Inc. And what Youth Builders Inc. is designed to do is face some of these disadvantages that a lot of these children have coming from the community that they’re in. Disadvantages – meaning that poor nutritional value, which is simply education. So what we’re trying to do is expose some of these kids to just the nutrition that comes from just raw vegetables and fruits and trying to get ’em aware that this is gonna be better for them actually playing sports. Because that’s what a lot of these kids do in Youth Builder, they play sports. So if we can get ’em involved in eating better it actually transfers into ’em being better athletes.

Courtney: And how important is it do you think to get urban kids involved in agriculture?

Chandler: Extremely important. You think in terms of just something as simple as academics, you know. Research shows that if you’re eating better you’re sleeping better, which is gonna transfer into you being able to get up the next day with enough energy to be able to transfer it into the classroom. So we see it as increasing their academic ability by eating, just simply eating better.

Courtney: And Chandler’s organization isn’t the only one seeing the value of agriculture, Shay Omakhomie is an organizer for EOUG – Empowering Our Urban Girls.

Shay Omakhomie: It’s just a fascination for them to actually see the process and actually be a part of that. You know, again, that’s a seed that is being planted in them, and they look forward to the next thing we’re gonna do. What are we going to do next? What are we, are we gonna get to go back? Are we gonna get to plant, and are we gonna pick the vegetables and fruits? It’s just, I love to see that type of spirit in something that is really a necessity for them opposed to video games and technologies – that kid spirit that they should have. I see that again, and I love it.

Courtney: What are some of the changes you have seen in these kids emotionally and how have you seen them grow?

Chandler: Absolutely. One of the things is just simply coming out here and working – working in the garden. Micah, Mr. Anderson, you know, when he first brought me along he said it was a spiritual transformation and actually it is. Once you see these kids, they’re out here working hard, then they see the things that are being produced from the work from their hands, you know, it just does something to ‘em emotionally, it does something to their psychology, they just feel good about themselves.

Courtney: It’s a spiritual transformation changing the lives of everyone involved with a central focus on giving.

Chandler: A lot of young people don’t have the opportunity to have both parents in their life. So to me as a young man, to be able to give back to young guys who don’t have their fathers in life, just kind of be a positive role model, a positive influence to them and just to give back as far as agriculture-wise, show them a different view of things.

Courtney: Eric McHenry volunteers in the garden every week.

Eric McHenry: You can be a sports guy, but you can also be an agriculture guy as well. Learn how to produce your crops. Grow your crops. And also be able to produce for your family and your community as well.

Courtney: Well, Rob, community gardens promote healthy lifestyles and also create food security in low-income areas. They also provide therapeutic opportunities while promoting agriculture.

Rob: Thank you so much, Courtney.

Courtney: You’re welcome, Rob.

Rob: Now, when we return, we’ll meet some students learning to sow to grow.