Sedalia residents use garden to improve race relationships

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 | 11:52 a.m. CDT

SEDALIA — Residents in a western Missouri city are using a community garden to improve the relationships between city's different cultural group.

The project's organizers contend that getting people to work together for the same purposes improves trust among people with different backgrounds. The garden project was an idea for improving race relations in the city about halfway between Kansas City and Jefferson City.

"When you get people together and they work with one another they start to develop trust. It is easier to trust someone when you know them a little better, and this seemed like an excellent way to do just that," said Elder W.T. Morris, whose church donated land for the garden.

The Sedalia Democrat reported that the community garden is located on an empty lot near a church on the city's north side. More than a half-dozen people have planted potatoes and sweet onions, squash, and other vegetables in 10 plots.

Morris also has donated a tilling machine and worked in the garden. He said he wants the garden to get people from different background working together and be an inspiration for neighbors to take more interest in improving the area.

Some of the produce from the garden could be used this fall for a harvest festival to celebrate the garden project.

Marge Harlan, a psychologist who helped moderate a series of race discussion groups earlier this year, said people who attended the discussion groups came up with the idea of the community garden.

"Our purpose is to bring people together so that they are able to get to know one another and develop a sense of trust among whites and blacks. In order to have healing you have to have dialogue, and I think this community needs healing," Harlan said.

Information from The Sedalia Democrat.

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