Award Grows Out of Woman's Organic Garden
What came first? The organic fruit or the dirt?
Lynda Mink’s yard looks like the canvas of a gardener gone mad.
It should. Her home is a National Wildlife Foundation-certified wildlife habitat.
Plants, in various stages of growth, mounds of dirt and buckets surround Mink’s Santa Anna Drive home. She calls the disheveled plot the “Whinot Garden?”
“If just one percent of Dunedin households would plant an organic, edible garden, there could be 173 new gardens a year,” Mink said.
She believes everyone can provide nutritious food for themselves and others. It’s a belief that pervades every aspect of her life — from her activism for the 1-Percent Food Project, a local movement to encourage the community to become more self-sustaining, to her moderation of online green-living networks. She’s so serious, she turned every inch of her lawn into organic soil rich enough to grow flowers for pollinators and food for humans and wildlife.
For her efforts, the city recently gave her the 2011 Environmental Award.
Mink bought her first farm in 1976 and became an organic, hippie survivalist. Upon moving to Dunedin in 1998, she found the poor quality, sandy soil unsuitable for organic gardening. She immediately set to rectify the situation, by “growing” her own dirt.
At first, Mink had two dump trucks haul in the best compost. She covered the compost with leaves and let it grow about 18 inches of rich, black dirt. Now, she and fellow gardener and volunteer Cindy Richter produce rich soil in sheet mulch beds — a no-till method of building from sand. They use a “dirt recipe” that includes cardboard, leaves, mulch, manure, seaweed, compost and live fishing worms (that do their thing). She also adds pre-consumer kitchen scraps from Bayshore Breeze Market and Grill, the winner of Dunedin’s 2011 Environmental Award (to a business).
Mink, also an originating member who helped write the bylaws of the Dunedin Community Garden Association, also moderates two online networks for like-minded people — the Clearwater Freecycle Group, a group that recycles items through free exchange, and Dunedin Transitions, a movement working to move communities away from oil dependency.
When she’s not gardening, Mink drives the ambulance for the Pinellas County Humane Society. She transports animals, deals with injured strays and wildlife, and handles animal abuse complaints. She shares her home with four dogs, one of which has a spinal injury, and an assortment of rescued birds.
She has four daughters, two live in Florida and two in Nashville, Tenn. She has nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Want to help?
Mink accepts volunteer help, donations and gardening tools. She also teaches people how to start and sustain an organic garden.
Her garden group meets the first Sunday of every month around 5 p.m. to talk dirt.