Jason Burke from Pennsylvania was inspired by the Gardens for Single Moms program to create gardens in his own community, too! As high school teacher, he even got his students involved to raise money and build the gardens. What an amazing way to bring the community together! Read his story about how he became inspired to take action.
I am a teacher of AP Human Geography at a public school called Abington Heights.
As agriculture is a unit of focus in the course, we naturally cover concepts like sustainable agriculture, food insecurity and food deserts. While we were studying the agriculture unit this year, my mom sent me a Facebook post on Gardens for Single Moms and it took me for a loop. Growing up in a single mother’s house, I can acutely sympathize with how hard it is for a single mom to offer healthy meals to their family. My mom worked full time, and during tax season, she worked two jobs… I give her so much credit for those years because even though there was a lot of frozen dinners and fast food on our table, she tried really hard to make sure there was some sort of salad or canned veggies and that the meal was as balanced as it could be under the circumstances. Needless to say, a garden was not happening in our yard, although it would have been wonderful to have.
So when I saw this project, I thought, “I need to make this my moms legacy. I am going to build a hundred gardens in my mother’s name, and in a small way, do some good in this world.” When I showed my students, they were immediately on board. We started a Geography Club sometime in the middle of the school year and we made this our big project for the year. My members made a brochure and presented it as a community outreach project at the annual volunteers fair at our high school. A handful of students signed up for it, and we randomly chose two families to be this year’s recipients of the Geography Club’s single parent gardens. We had almost everything donated and we used our own labor to install the gardens. We also planted five deck boxes to present to a local immigrant help group (mostly from Africa) to bring some fresh veggies to their apartment porches.
In the end, I think the project was a tremendous success and I look forward to bigger things in the future!
Jason is hopeful and determined to succeed in building 100 of these gardens for his community. He has ideas to expand the program to local nursing homes and building them even taller so that the elderly don’t have to bend over or can access the gardens from their wheelchairs.
Thank you Jason and your students for spreading this mission!