Garden Coordinator, Davey Lopes Recreation Center (South Providence, RI)
My name is Sterling Washington, and I work at the Davey Lopes Recreation Center in the Southside. I am a city food grower and am working hard to help people grow food in my neighborhood.
In 2007, I started working with Southside Community Land Trust to bring gardening to the front yard at Davey Lopes. To me, it was important because I was born and raised right in this neighborhood. The kids and families at the center are like my family. I want them to be healthy.
When I was growing up, people just didn't take the time to teach the kids about growing food. There were some people who did a little gardening, a little bit, but it wasn't popular in the city. Now there are even fewer people teaching kids about how to grow their own food and eat right. That's why we have made gardening a priority activity at the center--right alongside after school tutoring, boxing, computers, swimming and basketball.
Since we started working with Southside Community Land Trust, we've built not one but TWO gardens on Dudley Street. The kids love doing the work, reaping the harvest and eating delicious, fresh food that they can't buy in the local stores. Neighbors are starting their own gardens in the yards around the center.
People from the community walk past, see the gardens and want to be involved. Next year seven of our new garden beds will be tended by area adults who will each work with two to three kids from our programs. Everyone is welcome. In fact, there are no fences around here. If you are hungry and need some tomatoes, you can have them. We put the gardens in the front yard because we want to share.
Every step of the way, SCLT has been there as a partner and neighbor. They have helped to raise the funds to build the beds, they have provided advice about what to plant, they have provided compost, seeds and plants. After five years of working together, we are part of SCLT, and SCLT is a part of us.