The Montgomery County Conservation District (MCCD) goal is to increase support for urban gardens in the county through on-going information dissemination, creation and maintenance of lasting partnerships and distribution of the educational guide. The district launched its first outreach and technical assistance program to farms and gardens in urban communities. Long-lasting partnerships were established among community organizations, yielding meaningful outcomes at two target locations – Norristown and Pottstown. These locations represent two of the most urban areas in the county in terms of density and population, and were selected based on their classification as low income and low access to the nearest supermarket and local fresh food.
A highlight was distribution of composting bins and rain barrels to urban gardens, including several school gardens. These two conservation measures also served as educational tools to teach the garden users about soil and water conservation and stormwater management.
In addition to these on-the-ground conservation efforts, the partnership with GreenTreks Network created an electronic Urban Ag Conservation Resource Guide. The digital guide includes interactive garden models and resources, as well as video documentary filmed in Pottstown’s gardens. It is intended for use by any community organization, municipality, etc. interested in starting an urban garden. The guide steps through every aspect from site selection to finding funding to gathering community support to styles of gardens and technical information on planting and managing a garden.
The Urban Ag Conservation Resource guide was created to promote urban agriculture as well as provide step-by-step instructions for setting up an urban garden from start to finish. The guide includes video documentary, photos and planting guides as well as an interactive garden model chart. This guide will continue to be distributed locally, regionally and nationally to promote urban agriculture. MCCD will continue to update the Urban Ag Conservation section of the district website to promote conservation on farms and urban agriculture.
In addition to the guide, many connections were made throughout the county which will assist in continuing to promote and increase the number of urban gardens. Connecting the right people with the urban gardens will ensure that technical resources remain available to those who need them to increase the productivity and success of gardens.
An additional push is for increased number of gardens at schools. Distribution of rain barrels and composting bins promoted this effort. The district will continue to seek grant funding to provide rain barrels and compost bins to urban and school gardens to promote conservation.