Gardens for Humanity: The lasting power of good seed
Last month Gardens for Humanity said “Farewell” to one of its beloved elders and partners, Harvey Grady. Harvey was one of the visionaries, along with GFH founder, Adele Seronde, and her fellow artist-gardeners and environmentalists, who planted our organization in its early days. I use the term, “elder,” in its most traditional sense, of one whose experience and wisdom provides the values and connects the past to the future.
From a gardener’s viewpoint, Harvey’s impact was as a sower and nurturer of seeds to grow a beneficial future for all. His everlasting legacy is the perennial optimism that he instilled from making positive change, facing challenges by being a catalyst for creative and lasting solutions.
Harvey, himself, was a seed in its most enduring sense. He was deeply rooted in Arizona, having grown up on a ranch near Cherry. From an early age, he always helped those who were struggling, and this became a keynote of his professional life. Like a seed, his DNA lives on in the hearts and spirits of many whose lives he touched, whether they were aware of him or not.
Growing community and empowering others to do the same in many different areas were Harvey’s constant focus. The nonprofit organization that he started, Cornucopia Community Advocates, enables start-up, as well as established community initiatives, to receive mentorship and donations as affiliate projects. They support projects serving the arts, food security, sustainability, and indigenous cultures and sovereignty. Harvey’s philosophy was, “Build programs based on trust.”
Developing a secure local food system was always close to Harvey’s heart. In 2008 in the wake of the recession, he worked to raise awareness of hunger, impacting so many in our community. He brought together emergency food providers from our region, non-profits, and the faith-based community in a first-ever sharing of needs and solutions. What emerged was the Verde Food Council, which they billed as “The Voice of the Hungry.” Their programs evolved into the Yavapai Food Council. A lasting benefit of the YFC was the Neighborhood Food Program, dubbed the “Green Bag” program, a vital and on-going contribution to emergency food providers today.
Right up to his untimely passing, he participated and advocated in regional and statewide gatherings to inform and create policy impacting government departments and non-profits, in order to assist in establishing a healthy, just, and sustainable food system.
His most recent accomplishment was the creation of the Verde Valley Food Policy
Council, to create an action plan for a sustainable and healthy local food system that would be environmentally sensitive, just, conserve land and water resources, lower the impact of food production and consumption on climate change, and stimulate the local economy.
Through the Council, he brought together a wide range of stakeholders, including farmers, emergency food providers, environmentalists, nutritionists, educators, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and departments that deal with health, agriculture, economic development, and human welfare. The action plan shows that a healthy local food system promotes environmental and human health, and while contributing to a sustainable a local economy.
In this month, as we celebrate and make commitments on Earth Day to help create a more healthy, just, and livable world, we can use Harvey’s life as an example. A sustainable world promotes not only the needs of the natural environment, but also the needs of humanity that calls it our home.
If you wish to honor Harvey’s work, you can make a donation to Cornucopia Community Advocates here: Cornucopiaca.org
Richard Sidy is president of Gardens for Humanity, a founding member of the Sustainability Alliance and a member of the Verde Valley Food Policy Council. To reach him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.