Stamford, Conn.-based Keep America Beautiful's (KAB) annual Great American Cleanup (GAC) typically calls on plastic-gloved volunteers to clear city , parks and waterways of litter and debris in an effort to encourage residents to take greater responsibility for their local environments. But, picking up garbage is only part of the annual three-month GAC program, says Gail Cunningham, senior vice president of KAB and managing director of the GAC. In 2008 alone, GAC beautification projects resulted in the planting of 107,000 trees and the creation of 48,000 gardens and green spaces, she says.
Keep Miami Beautiful was one of six KAB affiliates to receive a grant to start an edible garden, called "Harvest of Love," which debuted June 1 during the GAC. "Gardens are becoming a regular part of national green community initiatives," says Juanita Shanks, president and director of Keep Miami Beautiful.
The Miami-Dade Housing Agency provided a half-acre plot for the garden, and 20 Keep Miami Beautiful volunteers have committed to maintain it. The garden is planted with vegetables, herbs and fruit, and was funded by a grant from Marysville, Ohio-based ScottsMiracle-Gro Company.
To encourage more residents to start gardens, Keep Miami Beautiful formed a Community Gardens Association, and it has identified three local food pantries and feeding ministries with whom to share the produce, Shanks says. "We feel that these [gardens] help 'clean up' the community because they are beautiful additions to neighborhoods that hopefully will make community members prouder of where they live," Shanks says.