Garden Club Interview
Justin Munroe lives with his family in Nashua. As the founder of JMPhotography, he has specialized in Wedding Photography for the last 15 years and is also a lover of gardening. I recently met him at the UNH Master Gardening class in the spring. What impressed me about Justin is that he has jumped in to do something im-pactful for the less fortunate and to educate the public about gardening. He has garnered corporate support to start several community gardens in Nashua. The first garden is now up and running on land owned by St. Jo-seph’s Hospital. The second is in process at the Amherst St. Elementary School and the third will be on land owned by Dartmouth Hitchcock of Nashua. He calls this program “Grow Nashua”.
DB: It seems that you have a love for gardening - how has that been fostered?
JM: I just love all the different things that gardening "is". There is awe in the power of a small seed and how it can grow to be a gigantic plant that provides nourishment for our bodies. My grandparents and parents always had a little garden in the yard that they tended to and so I think it has always been kind of a standard thing to do. Once I had my own home my wife and I really started doing it for fun more than anything else and to this day still find it quite a relaxing hobby.
DB: What gave you the idea for "Grow Nashua"?
JM: We thought about how a refugee comes here and lives in an apartment and has a minimum wage job that they are stuck in due to the language barrier. Last spring when we were planting, we thought that would really stink if we were stuck in another country and weren't able to grow fresh food any longer for our family.
DB: You have had some remarkable business and community support for this project in a short amount of time, to what do you attribute this?
JM: This is God's plan and I'm just a guy lining up the pieces. A day hasn't passed over the last year where someone or something hasn't lined up to bring us to the point where those mothers last night (refugees from Congo and Rwanda....) felt that dirt and knew they had signed up for something special. I have been so fortunate to have been aligned with so many strong individuals and organizations that have helped guide me and believed in my vision from day one. Having a business degree and building a solid business plan to stand behind has been critical to getting corporate buy-in.
DB: And your longer term vision is...... more community gardens?
JM: Yes, more community gardening equals more community engagement. It also equals healthier eating, which equals people with more power to take a step forward in their own personal life. We'll create $10,000 worth of veggies this year in our garden that our families do not need to buy from the grocery store, giving a financial edge to them.
Many thanks to Justin and his volunteers for their encouragement and caring to reduce Food Insecurity and for making this happen. In addition to the garden space, Grow Nashua is also sponsoring educational sessions. See their Facebook page “Grow Nashua” for updates and news on progress!
- Interview by Deb Buck