Nurturing the Seeds of Community
In Good Company® is an alliance of like-minded companies who join forces and roll up their sleeves to donate time, energy, and materials to communities that need access to healthy food, adequate housing, and a healthy environment. Clif Bar founded In Good Company based on its own long-standing tradition of community service, as well as the certainty that collaboration among businesses can be a powerful force for positive change.
Since its inception in 2008, In Good Company has helped develop community gardens, restore forests andwetlands, and build homes across the country—in West Oakland, CA; New Orleans and Lousiana's Gulf Coast; Exeter in California's Central Valley; the Stanislaus National Forest; the Hopi Reservation in Arizona; and in the Bronx, NY, where this story takes place.
Back in the '80s, the Garden of Youth on the corner of East 182nd Street and Prospect Avenue in New York’s Bronx was meant to be a community garden and a green place where kids could play. But by 1999, it had lapsed into a barren space—8,000 square feet of garbage and debris with just two small, lonely garden beds kept alive and growing by one passionate local gardener named Rufina Medina.
When she started working those two small plots 17 years ago, Rufina had to struggle just to keep two beds’ worth of herbs, vegetables, and Mexican greens alive. Neighbors and local businesses had been using the vacant lot as an unofficial dumping ground for years, leaving furniture, bottles, and all kinds of trash on both sides of the fence.
"As I started cleaning it up, people walking by would stop and call through the fence and say, 'You're working too hard, why are you working so hard in that dump?'" Rufina recalled. "I'd tell them, 'I just like gardening, I want to make this cleaner.'"
She enlisted her elderly mother and other family members to help clear out all the garbage. Even with all of them working together, it took a good six months to clear the space. And then, for the next 17 years, Rufina and her family were on their own to try to maintain the garden.