Doing Good: A Seed Grows in Columbus - An Organic, Urban Garden Feeds a Community's Growth

A vitally-important community garden grows: The Charles Madison Nabrit Memorial Garden.                               Photo courtesy of Paula Penn-Nabrit

There is nothing more powerful than a woman on a mission.

Paula Penn-Nabrit is a woman with a vision.

But she most importantly, she’s a dynamic woman who knows how to get things done.

Paula saw a critical, unmet need in her Columbus community–which was virtually an urban

food desert.

An avid gardener, the seed of an idea grew in her fertile imagination:

“Why not create an organic community garden?”

Ms. Nabrit set out to bring life to this dream by founding an important community garden,

The Charles Madison Nabrit Memorial Garden, named for her late husband.

The Memorial Garden is located in an economically-depressed Columbus neighborhood–

an area where local residents lack easy access to fresh, whole foods within a 10 to 15 mile radius.

The garden is a program of Telos Training, Inc. which was also founded by Ms. Penn-Nabrit.

And what remarkable community resource it is destined to be!

“Give a woman a basket of food, you feed her for a week.

Teach her how to garden, you feed her, her family and her community

affordable, clean, live, organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and fresh

flowers for generations-even in the midst of food deserts.”

 Paula Penn-Nabrit, (Wellesley ’76), Garden Founder

The Memorial Garden’s fresh organic produce includes:

*Fruits: blueberries, cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon

*Vegetables: asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, collard greens,
cucumbers, green beans, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, radishes, red potatoes,
spinach, tomatoes, turnips, Yukon gold potatoes, zucchini

*Herbs: basil, chamomile, chives, dill, lavender, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme

*In addition to a glorious array of flowers: dahlias, hibiscus, hydrangea, marigolds, nasturtium,
roses, sunflowers, tulips, zinnia

Organic, Self-sustaining, Eco-friendly

Doing Good: A Seed Grows in Columbus - An Organic, Urban Garden Feeds a Community's Growth

This invaluable community garden located in an urban food desert is organic, self-sustaining, eco-friendly and solar powered. Photo courtesy of Paula Penn-Nabrit

The sustainable, eco-friendly garden is:

-reducing toxic exposures by using only organic soil, untreated lumber, non-GMO seeds, and

organic homemade pesticides.

-utilizing the square foot gardening method to maximize their yield

-watered by an above ground drip irrigation system and water is being conserved in rain barrels


-seeds will be saved for the next year’s plantings

-three greenhouses have been already built for continuous seed propagation

-next year’s soil will be built from compost content

-Several harvests are planned each year beginning this August.

A sizable portion of the harvest will supplement the ongoing work of the Bread of Life Ministry

at Ms. Nabrit’s church–which services the local homeless population.

Some of the produce will be available to neighbors in the community.

The remainder will be used in classes hosted by Telos Training, Inc. which include canning,

freezing and pickling.

A Vital Community Hub

Doing Good: A Seed Grows in Columbus - An Organic, Urban Garden Feeds a Community's Growth

This self-sustaining organic garden is a labor of love.
Photo courtesy of Paula Penn-Nabrit

More than just a garden, this rich community resource is designed to be a teaching and learning center.

It is a place for children to learn about a variety of healthy foods, harvest them, and most importantly,

take them home.

This peaceful green space is both a quiet sanctuary for meditation and a place for senior citizens to relax.

Affordable, organic, wholesome, fresh food is available to the community at the Farmer’s Market on

Wednesdays and Sundays.

It is fitting that the garden is named for Charles Madison Nabrit.

In the words of his wife, Paula:

“C. Madison (Darmouth ’74) spent his life creating

opportunities for holistic, spiritual, intellectual

and physical health in the community.

He believed in the ease of movement from critical

thinking, careful planning, detailed discussion

and brilliant writing to collective and cooperative



The garden, located in a predominantly black,

economically depressed community in Columbus,

is the ideal way to remember C. Madison and

contribute something meaningful, tangible, sustainable

and reproducible for the larger community.”

 Paula Penn-Nabrit, Garden Founder

Why Gardening Is Good for You

Doing Good: A Seed Grows in Columbus - An Organic, Urban Garden Feeds a Community's Growth

Gardening is a great form of exercise, stress reliever, creative outlet, and just plain old good fun.

In addition to providing convenient access to fresh, wholesome food, gardening is a valuable

to us in many other ways.

It’s a great form of exercise, stress reliever, creative outlet, and just plain old good fun.

Studies have shown that regular exposure to nature and fresh air is good for us.

Not only will you feel energized and refreshed after a gardening session,

but you’ll also feel a great sense of achievement.

Here are a few more reasons why gardening is a great all-around exercise:

#2 – Great for Joints and Flexibility

As we get older, so do our joints and mobility.

Gardening is a great option for keeping your joints supple and flexible without too

much pressure.

Simple exercises like bending, lifting and light digging will help your flexibility and

muscle tone.

All of this will lead to improved health and quality of life.

#1 – Stress Relief

Many of us lead very stressful lives.

Gardening is a good way of relieving that stress.

It’s a quiet, gentle activity that also helps you connect with nature and clear

your mind.

There’s something very nurturing about getting close the earth and having a part in

helping something grow.

#3 – Great Social Activity

Gardening is becoming increasingly popular.

Many people are joining community garden projects and schemes.

This is a great way to bond with your community.

It’s also a fantastic opportunity for swapping home-grown produce and teaching your

kids and family about healthy eating.

Gardening is a great link for friendships.

It’s a good way to meet like-minded people doing something you enjoy.

#4 – Great for Children

Children are naturally geared to love gardening.

They have an inbuilt instinct for connecting with the earth around them.

Give a young child a small shovel and a vegetable patch and they may happily dig for hours.

Exposure to gardening also shows kids the importance of food and healthy eating, as well

as caring for their environment.

Many schools now have gardening clubs and projects to help children get involved as

gardeners too.

#5 – Keeps You Busy

If you already have a busy schedule then gardening may be something you fit in on the

weekends or in short spurts.

However, if you’re out of work or retired, keeping a garden is a great way of staying active,

fit and healthy.

You’ll also feel a wonderful sense of achievement when you see the fruit of your labor.

On the surface gardening seems like a great health activity, and it is, but there are also many

other wonderful benefits.

Along with getting plenty of fresh air and exercise you can relieve stress, make new friends,

show your kids the importance of our environment and keep your joints and muscles supple.

All in all, it’s a rich, rewarding all-around activity to enjoy.

How You Can Support the Dream

Doing Good: A Seed Grows in Columbus - An Organic, Urban Garden Feeds a Community's Growth

A welcoming sign and a comfortable bench beckons visitors to the The Charles Madison Nabrit Memorial Garden. Photo courtesy of Paula Penn-Nabrit

Sustaining an undertaking of this magnitude this takes a lot more than dreams.

It requires significant funds to purchase the necessary supplies to grow and maintain the dream.

Key Memorial Garden needs include:

($1,300) 50’ X 75’ perimeter fencing
($500) Solar powered motion detector perimeter lights for varmints
($400) Solar powered path lighting for people
($1,000) Trenching, edging, sand, gravel & truck delivery
($500) 2 rain barrels: to harvest rainwater for plant and garden irrigation
($150) 1 large composter
($150) 1 large garden cart
($5,000) 40’ X 20’ Farmer’s Market Tent & Instruction Area
($1,000) Farmer’s Market Supplies: scale, containers, bags, signage

Total needed: $10,000

You can donate to The Charles Madison Nabrit Memorial Garden and support this worthy cause

by participating in the Indiegogo campaign at the link below:

Learn more about Telos Training Inc.




Are you involved in community gardening?

Do you have an organic garden?

What are you doing to make your garden eco-friendly and sustainable?

Share your thoughts and comments with us.


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