Community Gardens are beginning to gain popularity as individuals discover the joy that comes from growing your own fresh produce. Each plot of earth provides the opportunity for gardeners to express themselves as they nurture a patch of vegetables, cultivate flowers, or experiment with the pleasant aromas of herbs. Community gardens provide exercise, nutritious foods, strengthen community bonds, and promote environmental awareness to those who actively participate. The sustainable use of space can turn vacant lots into productive gardens that inspire others to take steps toward nutritious and healthy living.
My father and I had the opportunity to see the Community Garden of Lakes Park thanks to Extension Agent, Roy Beckford. The Community Garden of Lakes Park is a vision that has begun to take shape through the efforts and partnership between The Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation and Lee County Parks & Recreation. The Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation’s ultimate goal is to restore Lakes Park into a native Florida wildlife area. They have begun to layout this vision and develop a master plan. The Community Garden is part of this master plan and is one of the first steps in establishing the Lakes Park Botanic Garden.
Community Garden info: http://lakesparkenrichmentfoundation.org/community_gardens.php
The Community Garden is comprised of 69 ‘4 x 8’ raised beds which are each rented out for a yearly fee of $50. All proceeds are received by the Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation and then reinvested back into Lakes Park. Most of the beds are ground level, but as shown above, some are raised higher to make it more accessible. Each bed is numbered to make identification easier.
Each gardener seizes the chance to experiment with different gardening techniques in their own raised bed. The designs vary with each different individual and their preferred style of design. The above photos demonstrate the application of square foot gardening which makes use of space by planting intensively in 1 x 1 square foot plots.
Each raised bed is unique and provides a palate for the enthusiastic gardener to cultivate an array of plants. Though each bed is different, they are all planned with care.
Whoever planted this bed loves tomatoes!
The eggplant above looks so tasty and those marigolds would make wonderful cut flowers.
The community garden takes the garden clippings and composts them into natural fertilizer.
Gardeners exercise their creativity in finding new and unique ways to conserve moisture. This gardener has woven scraps of cardboard and then covered it with rocks to create mulching.
This white powder is diatomaceous earth which is actually ground fossils of diatoms that were harvested from fresh water! It is commonly used in organic gardening for killing pests. The powder works by puncturing the exoskeleton of soft-bodied insects which results in dehydration and death.
Community gardens provide the connection to nature that many of us long to experience as we deal with the stress of living in the city. Gardening can become therapeutic for many who indulge in the activity. Gardening also provides the chance to enjoy God’s creation. While touring the area, the bird above captured my eye and now as I look back at the picture it brings a Bible passage to mind which has brought me comfort in the past and present. I hope it brings peace to you as you read it below.
Mathew 7:26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for you heavenly father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?