Jackson’s Garden is a volunteer operated communal garden located in Sheridan, Montana. Our mission is to sustainably support gardening for production, education, and enjoyment of our community.
Jackson’s Garden promotes the health and wellness of our community by producing fresh fruits and vegetables, providing attractive opportunities for community members to engage in physical activity, and offering educational opportunities. The organization disseminates information about gardening, nutrition, and healthy lifestyles through a monthly newsletter. They partner with the local school districts to provide garden-based curriculums with the goal of instilling healthy behaviors at a young age. They also conduct cooking workshops for adults.
Cooperation between key community stakeholders, and a community basis of support play significant roles in the success of the project. The organization is run by volunteers, and receives the majority of its financial support from community donations. Additionally, because the garden is operated as one large plot, rather than the traditional community garden model of individually rented spaces, we are able to produce substantially more food and better use sustainable agriculture practices.
Currently, the garden has 11 volunteer members. In addition, over 30 non-member volunteers worked in the garden during the 2010 growing season. Programs to engage more youth volunteers are being developed.
Working together motivates people to be healthier. A first time home gardener may let their garden fall into disorder midway through the season – discouraged by the amount of time required or seasonable variability. But a group of volunteers will motivate each other – to return to the garden every week to see each other, to find new and healthy ways to utilize the abundance of fresh foods now available to them, and to stay engaged. This finding is why Jackson’s Garden has decided to continue operating the garden communally, rather than renting out individual plots.
The state of the garden is its own success story. Three years ago, the property, which had been a garden for over 30 years, was in a state of decline. The couple who owned the property were no longer able to work the land and the garden had been taken over by weeds, brush, and debris so dense it was described as a “jungle”. Friends of the Jacksons decided three years ago to reclaim the land and restore it to its former beauty. Within two years the land had become workable again and was producing flowers and vegetables. In the third year, the Jacksons donated the land to the community volunteers, who have formed a private nonprofit organization, Jackson’s Garden, Inc to foster the land. The volunteers are now engaged in strategic planning to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project.
Results so far: 2010 Growing Season: ~1,000 pounds of produce grown. Approximately 500 pounds was distributed to volunteer members, approximately 300 pounds was sold to the greater community at a Farm Stand, and approximately 200 pounds was donated to various community organizations.
Organizations Involved: Sheridan, Alder, and Twin Bridges School Districts; Ruby Watershed Council; Ruby Habitat Foundation; Montana State University County Extension Services; University of Montana Western Campus Corps; Montana Campus Compact; Sheridan Senior Center
For more information check out their website at: http://www.jacksonsgarden.org/