Early in the morning, at least much earlier than I normally wake up, there was mist still present on the greens and herbs growing out in the garden. Lovely people were bustling about, tending to this task or that matter. The smell of earth was apparent in the air, birds sang a call to action, and we even found a frog hiding in the leeks.
This darling little place is a garden in Tallahassee called the Betton Hills Community Garden. Coordinated by Sue Hansen of Tallahassee, the garden is managed well with 12 orderly 10 foot by 10 foot square plots which are individually purchased. Gardeners decide what they would like to grow, and tend to their plots accordingly.
Once a month, everyone pitches in for their “work day” which includes the chores and upkeep of the area as a group. For instance, one helpful gardener painted on a protective coat for the garden sign that was a little under the weather. Normally “work days” also include weeding, mulching, and raking the common areas. They have really put a lot of work into this garden from the beginning. Just the ground for the beds alone was designed by layering the following items in this order: a layer of cardboard, six to eight inches of leaf mulch, two year old mushroom compost, and seaweed with granite dust mixed in. More leaf mulch and shredded tree bark was used in the walkways. These crafty locals also designed several gorgeous benches and their garden sign with abandoned wood.
Sue shared one particular story with me that demonstrates the group’s commitment to the garden’s success. She described, “When our garden was approved by the City, the City installed a water meter close to the edge of the property, by the sidewalk and on a slope. To get water to our beds required approximately 80 feet of hose. Because the garden is located in a park area maintained (mowed each Monday) by Parks and Recreation crews, we had to keep removing the hose and keep it coiled up in the central area of our garden so it would not interfere with their mowing. The slope got muddy and slippery; it was difficult and hazardous. So we built some sturdy wooden steps to get to the spigot. I informed the City of what we had done and why, and two weeks later they installed an underground pipe and a spigot in the center of our garden, no charge! To pay to have it done would have cost us $10 per foot.” This story really speaks to me because it shows how they were able to cooperate with the governing body affecting them. With a little creativity and patience, they were able to peacefully resolve a situation that affected their community.
When a group of people come together to create something amazing, they really need to be able to work together like this. That is why one of the most important aspects of community gardens is the community. Luckily, they have this wonderful skill of camaraderie. These green thumb friends take a break here and there to recount the important things in life. Of course, the gardeners really benefit from each other’s expertise as well. If one gardener isn’t sure about a particular vegetable, one of the other growers is bound to know the answer. When they are done sharing the chores and each other’s company, they share their wonderful creations.
Some of the colorful edibles from their garden that day were winter greens, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, basil, tarragon, parsley, turnips, and ginger. In the summer they usually have tomatoes and peppers as well.
If you are in Tallahassee and would like to join this community, feel free to send me an email and I will get you in contact with them.