KET - Kentucky Educational Television For Jim Embry, a community garden is more than just a source of food and beauty. He believes that gardening has the power to change the world.
A social activist since his youth in the 1960s, Embry believes that community gardening is the most important social movement in the country. Through workshops, tours, presentations, and service projects, Embry connects community gardeners-from the private and public sector-to the earth and each other. Dave Shuffett visits with Embry in Lexington and looks at several community gardens.
Community gardens are located in city parks as well as on school grounds and even in road medians. Local governments promote community gardens as a way to provide fresh food for low-income residents and to beautify the area. Gardens also improve the environment: In Lexington, a rain garden of trees and perennial flowers at Limestone, Vine and Main streets catches rainwater.
Embry, who holds a degree in biology, served as executive director of the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership in Detroit for four years before returning to Kentucky in 2005. He has been a three-time U.S. delegate to Terra Madre, a biannual gathering in Italy for members of Slow Food International.
Published on Apr 3, 2014 SUBSCRIBE 5.2K
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Formerly the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program, Greenhouse 17 is a shelter for victims of intimate partner abuse, where survivors can grow, flourish and leave the trauma of violence behind. Smith is a resident.
The program moved in 2005 from Lexington to 40 acres of beautiful farmland on Briar Hill Road. That move triggered a serendipitous chain of events that significantly changed the agency.
“At that time, our funding was being slashed,” said Christina Lane, farm-to-table coordinator for Greenhouse 17. “Everybody was concerned. Diane Fleet, our assistant director, said, ‘We have 40 acres. Why don’t we farm?’”
Fleet attended a conference sponsored by the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, where Jim Embry spoke.
Embry, a Kentuckian, lived several years in Detroit and worked as a community activist, using his passion for urban agriculture to help young people, gang members and teen moms “transform themselves as individuals, and transform their communities through youth activism, like in the 1960s,” he said.
When Embry moved back to Lexington, he brought his activist spirit, with the focus always on gardening, the environment, food and nature. He organized the Sustainable Community Network and promoted community gardens among churches, with the city parks department, neighborhood associations, Fayette County Public Schools, the Martin Luther King Academy and Chrysalis House. He gave workshops, wrote a manual on community gardens and spoke to civic organizations, urging them to organize community gardens.