Published November 21, 2022
Bill Dawson Community Gardener of the Year Award: Richard M. Harris of Growing Hearts & Hands Community GardenRichard Harris has a big heart for people—and a big appetite for cooking & eating delicious food! After nearly 30 years with LifeCare Alliance’s Meals-on-Wheels program and active involvement in Near East Side civic affairs, Richard knows the needs of the community. In 2009 he persuaded his faith-based care group to start the Growing Hearts & Hands Community Garden on the Near East Side.
His leadership and encouragement support all of those who contribute their gifts and talents to help the gardens to grow—whether the person is good at planting, plumbing, mowing grass, art, cooking, social media, or IT. One of his initiatives has been to engage volunteers from Alvis, a behavioral health and reentry social service agency, to maintain and upgrade the gardens’ infrastructure. Many Alvis volunteers have expressed their gratitude for being able to work in the gardens and the friendly conversation and counsel Richard provides. Richard’s love of community engagement is one of his key motivators. His philosophy has always been that gardens should be a center of social activity to encourage relationships among neighbors.