By Logan Nickleson, for Tower Garden
Can a garden change a life? Can it revitalize a community? Can it transform the world?
These may seem like tremendous tasks. But as you’re about to see, the power of a plant is profound. (Thousands of schools can attest to that!)
In honor of generosity — dedicated to charity and gratitude — here are 12 altruistic gardeners giving back to their communities and making a real, measurable impact. I hope you find inspiration in (and consider sharing) their uplifting stories.
Credit: Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry
1. Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry (BEAM)
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, BEAM provides low-income residents with necessities, such as food and shelter, as well as opportunities to improve their quality of life. An example of the latter is the organization’s 6,000 sq. ft. farm, Grace Garden.
In addition to raised vegetable beds, fruit trees, and even a Shiitake mushroom farm, Grace Garden grows 12 Tower Gardens, allowing BEAM to supply residents with nutrient-dense foods year-round. Last year alone, BEAM grew more than 7,500 lbs. of produce for its food pantry.
2. Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis
Through its Garden to Groceries culinary program, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis teaches kids how to grow, prepare, and sell food. As a result, program graduates enter the workforce equipped with valuable experience.
Core to Garden to Groceries is a 480 sq. ft. greenhouse full of 22 Tower Gardens, where trainees nurture and harvest ingredients — up to 400 heads of lettuce and several yields of herbs every month.
Credit: Linda Patsey McKinney
3. Five Loaves & Two Fishes Food Bank, Inc.
To supplement food donations, this food bank in West Virginia grows some of its own supply of fresh produce with 10 Tower Gardens.
Since Tower Garden simplifies the food-growing process, Five Loaves & Two Fishes Food Bank, Inc., can focus on the important humanitarian work of feeding its community — and not the tedious tasks of traditional gardening, such as weeding and watering.
Credit: LA Urban Farms
4. Getty House Foundation
At the Getty House — the home of Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti — 14 Tower Gardens flourish under the care of LA Urban Farms.
The bountiful yields from this urban farm go to The People Concern, a charity dedicated to helping the local homeless get housed, healthy, and safe.
Credit: GIVE Urban Farms
5. Union Church of Los Angeles
The Union Church of Los Angeles seeks to connect communities, make healthy food more available, build demand for local, sustainably grown produce, and empower a new generation of urban farmers.
And the church plans to do all of these things starting with GIVE Urban Farms — a 10-Tower growing operation in Little Tokyo.
Credit: Tegan Johnston/The Herald
6. Memorial Hospital Foundation
With the goal of giving the food-insecure population in Jasper, Indiana, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, Memorial Hospital Foundation started Hope Garden.
The growing operation includes 10 indoor Tower Gardens, allowing Memorial Hospital Foundation to produce pesticide-free fruits, vegetables, and herbs year-round.
Credit: City of Perris
7. Perris Green City Farm
Green City Farm exists to educate Perris, California, locals about environmentally responsible, drought-friendly gardening solutions for urban environments. So it’s no wonder that the city grows 10 Tower Gardens, which use up to 98 percent less water and 90 percent less land.
In addition to raising awareness about modern gardening practices, Green City Farm provides nutrition education for the public.
8. Pilgrim Terrace Homes
Serving the low-income population of Santa Barbara, California, Pilgrim Terrace Homes provides affordable housing for the elderly and disabled. In addition to this honorable duty, the nonprofit grows 100 Tower Gardens.
Pilgrim Terrace Homes uses the abundance of living produce from its urban farm to make up to 120 healthy meals per day, which residents and guests enjoy for free.
9. The Salvation Army
On the outskirts of Chicago, The Salvation Army Crossgenerations Corps Community Center’s Rooftop Tower Farm yields enough fresh produce to rival 10 acres of farmland.
The nonprofit uses its 30 Tower Gardens to fight hunger and engage seniors in the Blue Island, Illinois, community.
10. Step Up on Vine
The 25 Tower Gardens atop of the 34-unit property allow tenants to gain vocational training, engage in horticultural therapy, and enjoy fresh, nutrient-dense foods.
11. Volusia County Jail
Tower Gardens grow in some pretty interesting places. But a correctional facility is surely one of the most unique.
With 24 Tower Gardens, the women inmates at Volusia County Jail in Florida grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs — thousands of dollars-worth of fresh produce — for a local rescue shelter. And by one visitor’s account, they find peace and healing in the process.
Credit: Youth Effort Farms
12. Youth Effort Farms (YEF)
Powering a school garden program in Southern California, Youth Effort Farms teaches students more than healthful eating habits.
Students gain entrepreneurial experience as they sell the fresh produce from YEF’s 24 Tower Gardens through a CSA — community supported agriculture — subscription format.
Change the World with Your Own Community Garden
Churches, shelters, hospitals, food banks, and even jails — all kinds of organizations have begun to recognize the societal benefits of growing fresh, healthy food with Tower Garden.
And now with the Community Garden, an integrated system of 12 Tower Gardens, it’s easier than ever to get started.