Thursday, August 02, 2007

Community Garden

From the Macon County News...(all photographs are from the Macon County News)
Vegetables, fruit and a spirit of community are plentiful at the Sylva Community Garden. Tucked behind Mill Street downtown, the observant onlooker can find a bountiful community project in its first year.

Gardeners volunteer to maintain their own 15 by 30 foot plot to grow plants of their choice and are asked to donate about 2/3 of their harvest to the Community Table that serves meals to those in need. This year there are 19 plots in all, 17 of which are individually maintained and one plot of corn. More than 25 people are directly involved with the garden.


Karrie Joseph, coordinator, also had a plot last year and said making it into a community garden with individual plots was a natural choice. “Since we both had been gardeners for a long time, we realized that if you divide it up, it’s less work and knowing the way people garden, they know it more as their own,” said Joseph.

“We wanted people to take ownership,” added Boyd. “And we have all different styles of gardening.” Diversity is key when it comes to having so many people gardening in one area, she added.


Both Joseph and Boyd agree that it’s more fun the more people are involved. Boyd says the gardeners are constantly learning from each other and sharing ideas, which can be invaluable, especially when it comes to sharing organic ways to fend off pests like the bean beetle or squash borer.


Every year is a learning experience. “I like to try new things, like companion planting,” said Boyd, “Every year I try something different against the squash bores,” she adds with a smile.

Gardeners contribute in surprising ways, like Jacob Ebert, who knew there was a need for a shed in the garden. While doing some construction work with a friend, he happened to be working on a site where they were getting rid of a shed. He dismantled it himself, brought it to the garden, and put it up all in the same evening. He then painted it brown and it serves as an area for storing gardening supplies.


Introducing a healthy diet is another benefit of involving their children, says Joseph. “They like to eat the fresh vegetables and it’s important because you know it will affect their diet in the future,” she said.

Next year, the gardeners hope to add a bed of roman chamomile that people can lay down and relax in and a sandbox for the kids.


The Community Table

The Community Table has been serving hot meals to Jackson County residents since 1999. They serve dinner four nights a week, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. According to their mission, they provide nutritious meals regardless of people’s ability to pay.

Timara McCollum, the Executive Director, began in June and says having “good, fresh, organic” produce helps meet the mission of providing nutritious meals. It means using “less canned food, allowing us to limit the sodium intake and up the vitamins,” said McCollum.

“We try to be as creative as we can,” said McCollum, when it comes to the menus. And if the fresh food can’t be used right away, it is either frozen for future use or given to the clients.

“It’s also another way for the gardeners to get connected,” said McCollum. It’s clear that she views community involvement as an enriching experience in her work.


McCollum emphasizes the “Community” in Community Table. Many of the people served by the table are elderly, said McCollum, or people who just need temporary assistance.

“When people come eat with us, they love to talk and many have made friends here,” said McCollum, adding that talking with clients is what she likes most about the job. “It always feels good when it is full.”

I love this creation on so many levels. The gardening is therapeutic, vital, human, and creative. The garden connects people to the Earth and to each other. They are able to come together to provide for others. They create beauty. Go read the whole thing. More pics here.