SOURCE: Gardener's Supply

November 24, 2010 10:42 ET

Gardener's Supply Gives Top Honors to Founder of Community Gardening Group in One of America's Poorest Cities

More Than 139,000 Servings of Fresh Produce Grown in Camden, NJ

BURLINGTON, VT--(Marketwire - November 24, 2010) - Mike Devlin, founder and director of the Camden City Garden Club in Camden, New Jersey, has been honored as the grand prize winner in Gardener's Supply's Garden Crusader program. At a time when many residents in poorer communities rely on community gardens for their food, retroactive cuts in funding have severely limited current and future work.

Devlin has spearheaded efforts by the Camden City Garden Club (CCGC) over the past 26 years to create and support approximately 90 food-producing community gardens in Camden's urban neighborhoods. More than 60 of these gardens have been established in the last two years.

Camden is frequently described as the poorest small city in the country -- and among the most dangerous. Most families live below the poverty level, half of its residents are under 20 years old, and 60 percent of its young people don't graduate from high school.

According to a new study by the University of Pennsylvania, Camden is home to perhaps the fastest growing community gardens in the country.

These community gardens grew more than 30,000 pounds of food in 2009 -- that's 139,000 servings of fresh produce! -- and are on track to produce even more fresh fruits and vegetables this year, as gardeners grow their cool-weather crops into November.

Mike Devlin believes that gardens can 'grow' people as well as food, and to that end, he initiated many programs in Camden -- some going on 21 years.

"We're thrilled to honor Mike for his vision and leadership to help his city's poorest urban residents build gardens, grow their own fresh food," said Maree Gaetani, Gardener's Supply.

"There is plenty of land, plenty of hunger, and a real desire among residents to build gardens and grow fresh fruits and vegetables," said Devlin. "We want to thank Gardener's Supply, a company we've always respected as much for its gardening gear as its mission to support community gardening."

As the University of Pennsylvania study observed, "Food production in the Camden gardens is expanding the options, availability, and interest in fresh, healthy, local vegetables" in this urban community.

Founded in 1983, Gardener's Supply is an employee-owned company of avid gardeners providing garden-tested, earth-friendly products combined with practical information.

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