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United Way Blog

Using Your Green Thumb for a Good Cause

Gardeners know, and research confirms, that nurturing plants is good for us. But can we garden to change the world? According to activist Grace Lee Boggs, it’s a first step.

“We can begin by doing small things at the local level, like planting community gardens or looking out for our neighbors,” said Grace. “That is how change takes place in living systems; not from above but from within, from many local actions occurring simultaneously.”

One of the ways people can unite for change is through community gardens. They do more than just beautify neighborhoods—they improve struggling families’ access to nutritious food, decrease their food budgets, and promote good health and exercise for volunteer gardeners. From procuring land and supplies, to tilling the soil and harvesting crops, planning and planting a community garden connects volunteers to other community members in new ways.

United Way of Bay County started its community garden in 2007, partnering with Hidden Harvest to distribute donated produce to organizations serving the hungry; United Way of Lancaster County integrated its community gardens into after-school and summer children’s programs; and United Way of Central Iowa is helping area companies build “giving gardens.” Your local United Way may already be planning a garden, or you can visit these resources to learn how you can make a mark:

United Way’s corporate partners are also stepping up. On June 5, World Environment Day, Kellogg ramped up their fight for the 12 million people who live in urban food deserts across the nation. Kellogg joined forces with United Way to provide individuals with access to nutritious foods. The program, called United Against Food Deserts, addresses food security by bringing together local nonprofits and volunteers with Kellogg employees to cultivate and revamp community gardens. It’s just one of the many ways Kellogg is creating 3 billion “Better Days” by 2025. Learn how you can get involved today.