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My Mom's garden (credit: Dr. Mebane)

My Mom’s garden (credit: Dr. Mebane)

For the past 35 years my Mom, a master gardener, has cultivated a large garden near our home. For many years, that garden was our family’s primary source of vegetables, ranging from peas and corn to cucumbers and potatoes.

While I didn’t see the artistry in our garden while my sisters and I were weeding, watering and in other ways taking care of it, the beauty of the recent North Austin Community Garden project is evident.

In 2012, the City of Austin Art in Public Places Program commissioned local artists Lucy Begg and Robert Gay of Thoughtbarn to design and implement a community garden at the new North Austin Community Recreation Center. During the course of the project, the artists have worked extensively with the local community, through workshops and public events, to develop the design of the garden….

The goals of this public art project were created in partnership with the YMCA of Austin, the City of Austin Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Community Garden Program and the Sustainable Food Center. They include:

  • Integrating the perspective of an artist in the design and cultivation of a community garden.
  • Creating a gathering space maintained and enjoyed by diverse neighbors, which engenders stewardship and a shared sense of pride in community.
  • Producing a functioning and sustainable garden that yields fresh produce for the community.
  • Opening the artistic process to the community through  workshops and public events.
  • Reflecting on the concept of health for “mind, spirit, and body” through innovative expressions of visual art in a garden setting.

In sum, this garden is a great example of how the arts and health and nutrition can combine to encourage community engagement, development and health. Both the art and the garden give community members a variety of opportunities to meet with each other, feed the community with fresh vegetables, use design and gardening skills, etc. Seems like a win, win, win… beautiful and tasty community project.

AIPP garden fence Philip Rogers photo (source: AustinTexas.gov website)

AIPP garden fence, Philip Rogers photo (source: AustinTexas.gov website)

This community will celebrate the grand opening of the North Austin Community Garden (and screening of a documentary about its evolution) on May 17, 2014.

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