Start with lettuce. And grow from there.
A greenhouse program for at-risk-youths and seniors to grow and provide lettuce transplants to community schools and home gardens.

This program doesn’t exist yet. It is still just an idea. You see, it all started with Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party. This little coffee/pastry place in Atlanta sells donated books for 50 cents and then gives all that money to Noah’s Ark, a rehabilitation center for exotic animals AND children where the animals and children help each other. My interview with Katrell Christie, the owner of Dr. Bombay’s, reminded me of Riley, my friend Caryn’s dog, who is a therapy dog at Charter Peachford, a hospital that treats children with emotional, behavioral and dependency issues right here in my soon-to-be-city. In fact, Charter Peachford is right around the block from Brook Run, where there sits vacant greenhouses (and that assisted living facility is just across the street, too).

And that reminded me of a wonderful little book I read a few years ago titled Grace from the Garden, about how gardens transform lives. And then, as the swirling energy of the world would have it, I visited Farmer D’s new retail location the other morning (it opens in mid-December) and met a farmer who focuses exclusively on vegetable plugs, which she then provides to farmers. This led to a huge conversation about the value and possibilities of vegetable plugs, if you can believe it.

And, wouldn’t you know it, that very day, I got an email from London, where a program called Capital Growth was recently launched with the intention of inspiring 2,012 new gardening spaces by the year 2012. The person who wrote to me, in response to my question of how to encourage a community to garden, said simply, “Start with lettuce.”

And then there’s the grant, for just enough money to get this going, the application period for which is open right now. And then there’s the wonderful advice of Alice at Georgia Organics. And then there’s the fact that I ran a 501(c)3 non-profit for four years that grew like gangbusters nationwide but where I got in over my head because I didn’t ask for help, from which I’ve learned. And then there’s one more person, who believes that if he has the ability to make a difference, he has the responsibility, who, perhaps, I’m driving crazy but perhaps was meant to meet.

And so, there you have it. A bit of a roundabout journey that puts me exactly two miles from my home, with an idea, that an unused, unloved piece of land could perhaps have a use and foster love and make a difference. And that’s where it always starts, doesn’t it?

Posted by Pattie Baker

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