It's Spring in Rural America

My daffodils are in bloom, setting my flower bed ablaze with beautiful yellow flowers. Every available space in my house that gets direct sunlight is dedicated to seedlings for my garden.
All this reminds us of the importance of farming, ranching and local food production to many of America’s rural communities. And the national resurgence of gardening is a hopeful sign for the role local foods can play in revitalizing rural communities.

The only way to appreciate the true value of a tomato (or any other vegetable) is to experience the effort and sheer joy of raising one yourself. That’s one reason the Center for Rural Affairs, with help from USDA and Siouxland Community Foundation grants, helped create the Siouxland Community Garden project (http://www.cfra.org/node/2735).

A partnership with the Public Library, Extension and the City of South Sioux City, Nebraska, the project covers organic practices, presentations from local market farmers, and hands-on garden training. But it doesn’t stop there, offering trainings for potential market gardeners and new farmers that include business planning, marketing and more. In its second year, the project is a model that other communities should emulate.

Little things are often important things. Gardens provide a sense of community ownership, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Those of us who would see our communities – rural and urban – know the benefits of a renewed and revitalized local food system should do what we can to become a part of it, even if only in a small way.

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