Editor's note: The following letter was submitted to the editor from Derek Strohl, organizer of the Hales Trail Community Garden who recently won Patch's Person of the Year contest.
Thanks to those who nominated me for PW-S Patch.com's person of the year. It feels pretty good to get such recognition from the people right around me. But the award should really go to about 100 people who made the Hales Trail Community Garden the treasure that it is — people who attended meetings, developed budgets, delivered constructions materials, recruited volunteers, and showed up to strip sod, install fence posts, and dig trenches and then fill them back in (literally!).
I want to thank the folks who made financial donations or lent professional-quality equipment to ensure that we could build a fence that will stand the test of time. I want to thank the gardeners, of course, who got right in there and planted, watered, weeded and picked and squashed thousands of cucumber beetles, and I am ever-grateful to the small cadre of individuals who were always available when something had to be done to maintain the gates, the water tanks, and other features. Many hands indeed made light work.
If my thanks isn’t enough — and it isn’t — the garden stands as a testament to your love for your community. The towering sunflowers, the overabundant tomatoes and multitude of other veggies, the visiting family of foxes, and the friendships that grew are all the world's thanks for your hard work.
I was there a couple days ago; it's a beautiful place even in the winter. There are animal tracks, frozen compost piles awaiting warmer weather to resume their steamy work, and some row markers poking through the snow — reminders that 2013 gardening started several months ago.
As changing climate may bring us frequent and longer droughts, as fuel prices continue to be a concern, and as industrial agriculture continues to fail to feed the world's growing population, community gardens, home gardens, and other such time-tested practices will become more and more important. Shorter chains make stronger food webs (yes, we humans are members of a food web), and growing a portion of our own food will make communities like ours more resilient to the stresses that our world faces.
Again, thank you for honoring me. Oh, and we have room for a few new gardeners in 2013. If you're interested, don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Plots (15' x 15') go for $25 for the season. We'd love to have you join us.