18 BROADWAY GARDENS
Food is a necessity for any living being. A diet filled with nutrient rich food contributes to good health, and good health leads to improved wellbeing. Having access to healthy foods isn’t always easily available. Many individuals and families may not have the resources or money to purchase nutritious produce for their meals. Communities all over the country have come together to grow and harvest millions of pounds of fresh and healthy foods for their neighbors in need. Scott Rice connected with Brian Riddle, Senior Project Manager at Hollis + Miller Architects, to learn about their involvement in one of the most well-known community gardens in the Kansas City metro area, 18 Broadway Gardens.
For Riddle, the attraction and dedication started back in 2009, when working at a previous firm, in the Crossroads District. The company had a team of volunteers who were involved with maintaining a few of the 35-40 beds, along with many other businesses and private residents in the area. The group would gather during their lunch breaks to care for the growing plants and produce. In 2017, when Riddle and his current work family, Hollis+Miller Architects, moved their office downtown, he was given the opportunity to champion his own team of gardeners and contribute to the garden’s care and success.
Over the years, the gardens have been heavily supported by many organizations and individuals. This natural, nutrient producing plot, sits on a valuable piece of property, one that would be highly sought after by developers. Luckily, the owners have dedicated this piece of land to be a giver to the community. At first glance, the gardens look to be your common rows of 4’ by 12’ raised beds, when in fact, it is an intricately designed and self-sustaining system. Beneath the surface is thoughtfully imbedded irrigation channels, sourced with clean water through biofiltration. This process gathers the rain water from surrounding, strategically placed, rain gardens and planted swales which naturally filter any run-off pollutants accumulated during rain falls. The captured water is then guided into a 40,000-gallon, underground cistern, and stored for watering the garden.
Beyond the underground workings of the gardens, there is also the planning and logistics. Instructor Kathy Bylinowski, and University of Missouri’s College of Horticulture Extension, have been involved since the beginning. Bylinowski crop plans, procures and distributes all of the materials and seeds to the gardeners. She assigns the specific plants to each group, along with when and where to place them. The specifics are detailed down to the spacing for each column and row. Last year, H+M was assigned collard greens, sweet potatoes, carrots and onions. Bylinowski, a Master Gardener herself, shares her knowledge and leadership with several community garden groups throughout Kansas. She is dedicated to nurturing and educating more Master Gardeners throughout the metro.
Riddle and his team calculated that the garden yields approximately 4,600 lbs of produce in a season. This amount provides approximately 2,300 meals for Kansas City residents, which is collected and distributed by Harvesters. In addition to providing nutrient rich food, the gardens are an interactive learning environment for its farmers. All who contribute their time have learned the valuable lesson of sustainable growing and gifted the building blocks to maintain their own gardens. This knowledge has also been passed along to several of Hollis+Millers clients, through one of their signature design elements, an outdoor Learn Scape. For one specific project at Sunflower Elementary, faculty were able to lean on Hollis+Miller to help them plan, design and incorporate their own community garden onto their property. Curriculum was developed to teach the connection from a plant to the plate. Students were able to eat what they grew and take home to show off the “fruits of their labor”.
Participation in maintaining the gardens has provided valuable lessons in responsibility, sustainability, dedication and community. From April to September, volunteers follow a daily schedule for prepping, planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting the crops. Although it sounds labor intensive, team members benefit from the exposure to the outdoors, fresh air and physical activity. Riddle also appreciates the lessons it has taught his young children, who have also taken part in caring for the gardens. He ended our conversation with a confident and prideful statement about his team.
Part of Hollis+Miller’s DNA is to be involved with the community and contributing as much as possible. We love our Crossroads and KC community and love to contribute it.
Members of the 18th & Broadway Gardens include: Dialectic Engineers, Hollis+Miller Architects, TMC Med.org, SFS Architecture, David Morris, as well as retired members of the community.
Design and planning for the 18Broadway Community Gardens were accomplished through the dedication of the following organizations:
- DST Systems: Original property owners and thought starters
- 360 Architecture: Now HOK
- Patti Banks Associates: Now Vireo Landscape Architects and City Planning
- Tapan Am Associates: Structural Engineers
Interested in getting involved in a community garden? Below are links to additional resources: