Behind a small health food store in Greenville, SC lies a large unused plot of land. That is, it was unoccupied until Bo Cable's desire to help his community resulted in the creation of The Generous Garden Project. Now it is the site of a flurry of activity and a very successful vegetable garden.
After a life spent in the publishing industry, Bo started The Generous Garden Project after a simple idea he wrote down just would not go away. After being drawn to Greenville because of its high level of volunteerism and community involvement, Bo spent a lot of time thinking how he might be able to give back to his community.
Although he'd never thought of himself as a 'green thumb,' Bo's childhood on the farm gave him the experience and work ethic that helped him make The Generous Garden Project what it is today.
The Generous Garden is not a community garden in the traditional sense. While volunteers and community members grow and nurture the garden's herbs and vegetables - such as kale, broccoli, and zucchini - they are not the ones who will be enjoying them. All of the 100% organic produce goes to local food banks, shelters and single-parent families.
Bo saw from volunteering at shelters that most of the vegetables were frozen or canned. Very few shelters are able to offer fresh food and instead have to rely mostly on canned goods. The Generous Garden's fresh, organic vegetables not only add color, but also nutrition to shelter meals across the Greenville area.
The project occupies a sizable plot with its own compost heap with which they fertilize their crops and a worm farm to add nutrients into the soil. A generous donor provided two greenhouses, one of which is fervently being built to provide shelter for the next crop's seedlings.
The area that is currently planted is just a fraction of the land they rent. Bo is planning ahead to the time when they will have cleared and prepared even more of the fields to grow on.
There is more to Bo's plan however. As well as growing vegetables and herbs for people who are not able to afford such fresh, organic fare, he wants to teach people the art of gardening. By inviting school groups as well as adults to the garden, he hopes to instill in them both the ability and the desire to grow food themselves. 'Even if someone only has a window box, I can show them how to grow vegetables,' he says.
Bo started the project thinking that it would be an excellent weekend activity. His plan of spending a leisurely few hours in the garden on Saturdays and Sundays has turned into a full-time job. Although he owns a web-development and marketing company, he now goes to the garden every day of the week, for several hours each day.
The Generous Garden Project started in April 2011 and in its first year, it grew and distributed 32,000 lbs of produce, the equivalent of over 21,000 meals. Bo's plans are to continue expanding their yield while not compromising the quality of their produce. His hope is that the concept could be taken to other cities across the country, bringing the benefits of fresh produce and a communal love of gardening to communities just like Greenville.