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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Agriculture Secretary Names New Mexico Community Gardening Coordinator

ALBUQUERQUE - Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman appointed George Dickerson, a New Mexico State University horticulture specialist, as New Mexico's community gardening coordinator to provide advice on establishing and expanding community gardens.

NMSU Agriculture Communications Photo

"Community gardens not only produce fresh fruits and vegetables, they can also help create more livable communities by replacing unused lots with productive green spaces," Glickman said. "These gardening projects can be vital for communities, so I have selected coordinators in each state to help faith-based organizations, nonprofit groups, state and local governments, and individuals create or expand gardens in their neighborhoods."

In his job with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, Dickerson works with small-scale growers on production and marketing of specialty crops. He also conducts vegetable, small fruit and composting programs with Master Gardeners around the state.

"There are a number of community gardens we've been involved with this summer in New Mexico," Dickerson said. "They vary from a 4-H project in Albuquerque that encourages inner city kids to plant vegetable gardens at community centers to a community garden at a science center in Clovis that donates produce to needy in the community. We're interacting with clients on site and conducting classroom workshops to disseminate information and innovations in gardening."

The coordinators will offer advice on site location and planning, what and when to plant, soil surveys and conservation, volunteer recruitment and links with government agencies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided technical assistance, national publicity and limited seed money to local gardening projects. More information is available on the USDA World Wide Web site at www.gardening.usda.gov.

"Community gardens can bring people together, enhance communities and help fight hunger," Glickman said. "And by giving schoolchildren a chance to plant and care for community gardens, we offer them a healthy and productive way to have fun and improve their neighborhoods."

No additional funding is required because the community gardening coordinators are already USDA employees. A state-by-state list of the coordinators is available at www.reeusda.gov/SCGC.