Alamogordo Proud Series With Many Hands
AlamogordoTownNews.com and KALH Radio showcases examples of community pride and community engagement by small groups of individuals making a large contribution to the positive fabric of our community. AlamogordoTownNews.com through its #AlamogordoProud and #ChihuahuitaProud series highlights those that make us proud of our community and those making an effort of positive change.
Just as the beginning of a new season arrives, so does the dawn of a fresh opportunity in the heart of Alamogordo, courtesy of a burgeoning community garden initiative that seeks to cultivate not just plants, but a sense of unity and empowerment among Alamogordo residents. The community garden initiative is known as Public Land for Food an is alive, well and thriving as a new initiative in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
This is an initiative that is currently being facilitated by a grassroots organization known as With Many Hands.
With Many Hands is an organization that works across the country to partner with working class community leaders who are passionate about addressing concerns within their community.
In September of 2022 one of the lead organizers reached out to Alamogordo transplant Courtney McCary-Squyres via social media.
Courtney had been actively posting on social media about her love for gardening along with marketing her family’s urban farm located in Alamogordo. Amidst her journey of learning how to build and tend to an urban farm, Courtney had also been learning about the challenges of food insecurity, the fragility of the food supply chain, and the subject matter of food sovereignty.
During her exploration into the issue of food sovereignty it became apparent that Alamogordo lacked sufficient accessibility to locally grown food and that the general food economy was deficient of local agricultural producers.
As Courtney would go on to express her perspective on social media, she caught the attention of one of the organizers from With Many Hands.
After spending some time connecting with Courtney to hear her view point on food insecurity in Alamogordo, the With Many Hands organizer offered Courtney a fellowship opportunity and grant to develop leadership skills and learn about how to organize the community around the cause of addressing the need for a more robust food economy in Alamogordo and to be able to help residents challenged with food insecurity.
Courtney is now working as a junior community organizer to be the catalyst for positive change in Alamogordo by helping to unite community members to find creative solutions for the concerns of hard working people.
In June of 2023, after solidifying a leadership team, and gathering petition signatures of community support, With Many Hands hosted a campaign kick off to announce to the public the Public Land for Food campaign. The vision of the initiative is to partner with the City of Alamogordo to utilize formerly blighted properties, that have been transferred to the city, as community garden and food forest spaces. These spaces would be available to the public, just as any public park in Alamogordo and residents would be able to harvest fresh locally grown produce free of charge.
With the announcement of the Dudley School renovation and the many revitalization efforts in Alamogordo’s District 5 most especially the Chihuahuita neighborhood ; With Many Hands pursued working in conjunction with the renovations and sought the support of Joe Lewndowski project manager of the Dudley project on behalf of the Tularosa Basin Historic Society and the Commissioner of District 5, Commissioner Sharon McDonald.
Being that there was a formerly abated, city owned property directly across the street from the Dudley school at 601 Maryland Ave., both Mr. Lewendowski and Commissioner McDonald provided their feedback and support of the idea and partnership.
By situating this first community garden by the Dudley school, and partnering with the City of Alamogordo’s Parks and Recreation Department to utilize the Maryland Ave. property as a public garden, With Many Hands is committing to maintain the Maryland Ave. garden as well as offer gardening, cooking and preservation classes to the community in the gardens and utilizing the new Dudley Center as a community center and a place of pride.
These community outreach opportunities will be facilitated at the Dudley school upon the opening of the Dudley school and the completion of the community garden. For community members who are interested in volunteering to help maintain the garden or supporting the garden efforts, please contact Courtney McCary-Squyres by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (940) 395-8240. You can also stay connected with the garden updates and events by joining the Facebook group “With Many Hands Public Land for Food Campaign-Alamogordo” and by liking the Facebook page “With Many Hands Alamogordo”.
In addition to the community garden as a joint project with the city the organization, With Many Hands Alamogordo has already established a community garden initiative, also in Chihuahuita as a part of, the New York Avenue Alleyway project, at the 900 Block of New York Avenue. Working alongside Alamogordo MainStreet and the MainStreet businesses such as Roadrunner Galleria, Globug, Blush Salon and others planters with herbs and vegetables are planted to compliment the mural projects that are being facilitated as part of a grant received for neighborhood re-development. This is operated under the same umbrella and conditions as maintained as a public space for the community to enjoy. This community imitative was also a partnership project championed by District 5 Commissioner Sharon McDonald, Alamogordo MainStreet and the partnership of With Many Hands Alamogordo.
This is yet another example of community collaborations and where a small group of individuals with passion and dedication cane come together and make a big impact. Courtney McCary-Squyres vision, leadership and passion is the example of Alamogordo Proud and of Chihuahuita Proud that this community needs. This is positivity at its best.
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