Lately, I’ve been posting mostly about my diet escapades. Food is my hobby, so it’s not surprising that my posts are all about food. This post, however, is about food in a different capacity: growing it!

My family and I have recently started volunteering at New Leaf Community Garden. I drove by it downtown and thought, “that’s cool, I’ve got to find out about it.” Then I read in the paper that they received a grant to expand and I immediately emailed the director something along the lines of, “I must help with this in any way possible, whether it be manual labor or getting people coffee.” As it turns out, they were also leasing beds. I jumped on it, leased a bed, and became a volunteer.

This garden has been such a good way for our family to give back to the community, to learn more about gardening, and to meet some new folks. I joined the Greenhouse Committee, and boy, have I learned a lot! I’ve been home gardening for a few years, but not really knowing what I was doing, grabbing bits and pieces of information from here and there. I have learned so much, starting with the director Nicole’s recommendation of Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew. It’s an easy, concise way to garden in a raised bed. It follows organic practices, which appeals to me, and which the community garden also follows. If you’re interested in gardening, I highly recommend it.

We’ve just gotten started with this garden. We’ve planted seedlings, which need so much TLC. We’ve planted potatoes in tubs (Google it. Amazing!) that will be ready soon. They have planted peas, onions, radishes, garlic, and greens in the ground, and the seedlings will go in the ground in a few weeks. The greenhouse shelters the baby plants and need watering twice a day, sometimes three times a day if it’s sunny and warm. So far, they are going nuts! Tomatoes, eggplant, sweet peppers, okra, marigolds, herbs…that’s all I remember, but there are so many lil’ plants in there.

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Some of the harvest will go for sale at Market Day on the Square in order to maintain garden costs. Some of the harvest is devoted to our community food bank, to provide those in need with fresh fruits and vegetables. The rest of the garden is leased beds by individuals or businesses who also commit to volunteering in the community part of the garden. It’s a good deal, especially for folks like us who don’t have a good sunny spot for a garden. We have a good yard, but our only sunny spot is in the front and side yard. By leasing a bed in the community garden, we will have our own veggies, as well as helping provide for others in the community. Also- this location used to be an abandoned parking lot. Nicole unpaved a parking lot to put up paradise. Isn’t that how the song goes?

or if you prefer:

This will be a huge learning experiment for us, but what an ideal place to learn. I have enjoyed getting to know the other volunteers. They are all committed to this garden’s success, and are always ready to help. Of course, this will be the busy season and planting will begin soon. I’m in the midst of planning our little bed, and super excited to see how it will do. Stay tuned for updates; hopefully we will have some nice pictures to share of our bounty.

Do you have a community garden? How does it work and do you volunteer? Would love to hear other stories from other communities. These gardens help us stay in touch with each other, as well as where our food comes from and allow us to enjoy the unique, fresh homegrown taste that you just can’t get from the grocery produce shipped from afar.

Hope you are making the most of your spring!

Take care of yourselves and each other,