Community gardens grow to feed hungry
St. Luke’s garden coordinator Bill Marr is committed to sharing
fresh produce with anyone in the community who has energy to help out with their expanding garden.
This garden is named in honor of recently deceased, much loved community volunteer, Mary Boyer.
Most of the anticipated abundance that garden volunteers harvest will be donated to the needy through the hunger coalition and churches.
“Teenagers from the Mountain Alliance club volunteered last week and we mulched the walk ways, planted strawberries, potatoes, blueberries and collards,” Marr said. “It has been wet, but I’m hoping to plant peas and kale this week. It’s still a little early for some plants like squash, green beans and corn. We’re going to plant 60 squash plants and enough corn to hopefully produce 800 ears.”
Located on the property in front of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, the community garden is easily accessible to a large percentage of locals. It is truly a community garden in that everyone works together to plant, weed and harvest, instead of having separate projects.
Current hours for volunteers are Tuesday and Thursday evenings starting at 4:30. Once the garden is established, volunteer hours will expand. For more information, contact Marr at (828) 773-1214.
St. Luke’s members have generously supported this effort, as well as the Appalachian District Health Department, with funding from the Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant. This grant has also funded eight raised garden beds in the courtyard of the recently constructed Hospitality House, an emergency shelter for our seven county region.
Supporting these gardens is a great way to get healthy food to those with the least access.
Freshly grown vegetables and herbs will now be available to Kit Kerley, kitchen manager at the shelter. Much of the food he receives is from Second Harvest Food Bank, which provides little or no fresh fruits and vegetables.
The shelter residents and volunteers started working on the raised beds Saturday, April 21. They filled beds with soil, and everyone, including the kids, joined in. The kids also started seeds, including lettuce, chard and flowers.
In addition to healthy food, the gardens provide residents with the opportunity to learn the skills needed for small scale vegetable gardening.
The Hospitality House garden began with the courtyard beds, but now has expanded to a plot of land between the Hospitality House and the Hunger Coalition, and an off-site plot near Brookshire Park.
The gardens have support and help from the Appalachian District Health Department, Blue Ridge Garden Club, Watauga County Cooperative Extension, the Farm Bureau and Marg McKinney.
With much work ahead, garden coordinator Stephanie Logsdon would love more community assistance.
“Donations of starter plants, tools and other materials are greatly appreciated,” she said. “Also, we’ll have work days for residents and volunteers to work together. Or, if a group wants to provide help for the maintenance of the gardens throughout the summer, we need that, too.”
For more information, contact Logsdon at (email@example.com)
Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D,. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (828) 264-3061.