On Monday I had the opportunity to volunteer at one of the 19 community gardens in the city of Springfield. This was my first experience serving with the Springfield Community Gardens, but I can confidently say it won’t be my last. The Springfield Community Gardens, established in 2010, has distributed over 100,000 pounds of produce to families in need. This impact would not be possible if it weren’t for the 6,500 volunteer hours logged by community members, including Missouri State students.
The Springfield Community Gardens exist to “improve food choices and environment, create a sense of place, build relationships and social capital, and retain/attract families, businesses, and young professionals.” The mission of this organization ties right in with Bear Blitz, Missouri State’s Public Affairs Community Engagement Project. The focus of Bear Blitz is to serve the people of Zone 1 (Northwest Springfield), in areas such as food access and transportation.
Residents who live near one of the 19 community gardens are able to help tend to the garden in exchange for produce. Individuals who take advantage of a Springfield Community Garden can reap benefits such as “helping their families be better fed, better off financially, and in better health.”
My volunteer shift at the community garden on W Calhoun Street consisted of clearing away weeds and overgrowth along the edge of the grounds. Other volunteers tilled the ground, spread fertilizer, and prepared a space for mulch to cover the area around fruit trees. My volunteer experience at the Springfield Community Gardens allowed me to spend time outside on an oddly warm and beautiful November afternoon, work alongside fellow Missouri State students, and serve an area of Springfield that is greatly appreciative of our help.
The Springfield Community Gardens has several chances each week for students to get involved. It is a great opportunity for those of you who enjoy being outdoors, and appreciate seeing tangible results of your service hours. You can be a part of the Missouri State Bear Blitz, and sign up for volunteer experiences through the Springfield Community Gardens, or other like-minded organizations by visiting www.givepulse.com.
-Tai Thrasher, Senior, Public Relations major