Seeds sewn, service praised in new Talo’fo’fo community garden
Empowered by Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, Guam’s leaders and volunteers at the forefront of community service came together to raise ground in a new community garden, Jan. 17, at the Jeromy Newby Community Center in Talo’fo’fo’.
Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero, Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio, representatives from the Serve Guam Commission (SGC), 36th Guam Legislature, University of Guam (UOG), Guam Department of Education, and military took to the soil to plant some of the first crops in the garden, bolstering the Guam Green Growth (G3) initiative.
This was the second community garden established in partnership with G3, as the SGC’s AmeriCorps VETCORPS team answered the call to promote food security, healthy food choices, and increased island sustainability through education and community involvement, with a particular focus on veterans.
“This is the idea of placemaking; going to where all the conversations, of what makes a community, occurs,” said Peter Barcinas, SGC board chairperson and Associate Director for UOG Cooperative Extension & Outreach. “Today, this significant ushering of new programs and focusing more on our military community is an important milestone to guide the work we do.”
“Service, as we know, is such a sacred, sacred action that we give as a people. You will see how a community will come out and work with each other to promote food sustainability on our island to continue with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). As we raise another community garden for our people, let us shine the love of our souls upon all those who need our help and need our heart,” said Gov. Leon Guerrero.
The community garden supports SDG Goal 2, Zero Hunger; Goal 3, Good Health and Well-being; and Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities.
Present on site were a newly erected aquaculture system and set of recycling bins, also brought forth through collaboration with G3 and UOG Sea Grant.
“‘We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late,’” said Austin Shelton, UOG Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant director, quoting a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. “I am confident, and I am hopeful that we are not too late. We are in the right place, and we are doing the things that need to be done. This is the last decade that we have to act, to treat a future that is sustainable, prosperous, and equitable.”
UOG President Thomas Krise spoke on the strength of communities uniting for change and prosperity.
“The persistence of this demonstration of people showing what they care about and doing it peacefully is incredibly powerful. We need to do what we can with our neighbors, friends, and people who can make a difference, who can demonstrate that it’s possible to be upbeat, to be positive, to be an example to other people. It’s especially nice that we’re here in Talo’fo’fo’ to celebrate an example of a community that shows us all how to live as a community. Keep up the peaceful fight for positive change in our environment,” he said.
“All of the programs are in place. They are ready to serve our constituents. Our future is very promising. We have good people behind us. I have faith in them,” said Vicente Taitague, Talo’fo’fo’ mayor.
AmeriCorps Guahan Sustainable Culture member, Ysa Mercado, emphasized the program’s purpose of educating, influencing, and inspiring without profit.
“With everything that we’ve already done, and with this new startup, it just encourages sustainability for the island. The most important part is to want the island to continue to progress, so we stay safe and healthy, and, overall, sustainable and beautiful,” she said.
Residents are encouraged to collaborate with VETCORPS to work toward a successful garden and aquaculture system.
Aligned with the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, the Guam Green Growth Initiative, or G3, cultivates an ecosystem for transformative action to achieve a sustainable, prosperous, and equitable future for Guam. The University of Guam facilitates the island-wide initiative in cooperation with the Office of the Governor of Guam and the 100 members of the G3 Working Groups, representing all sectors of society.