Cindy McKenzie and Robert Suydam oral history interview, 2019 March 25
Cindy McKenzie and Robert Suydam, leaders of the Avondale Community Giving Garden on the campus of the Avondale Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, discuss the history of the garden and its relation to other local social justice organizations. Ms. Mckenzie discusses how the garden got started through a collaboration with the Common Grounds Farm Stand, a volunteer farm stand in the Myers Park neighborhood of Charlotte, which raised money for the Urban Ministry. She details how the work to maintain support for the farm stand by growing and donating vegetables became very labor intensive, and how the stand increasingly stocked prepared foods rather than vegetables. Mr. Suydam describes how the community garden subsequently re-focused their efforts to support Friendship Trays, a local organization providing food to the elderly and infirm. Ms. McKenzie and Mr. Suydam continue by describing their recent venture to offer community members the opportunity to rent their own plots in the garden and grow their own food, which has diversified membership. Other subjects discussed during the interview include the types of produce grown in the garden, problems with animals and insects, watering systems, and using a volunteer labor force. Ms. McKenzie and Mr. Sudyam conclude the interview reminiscing about childhood memories of gardening and how those experiences shaped their views about gardening today.