by Janine Baldino and Madeleine Eldridge
As the 2015 mini-grant funding cycle comes to an end, we would like to take this time to thank our partnering organizations for increasing access to healthy and affordable foods and safe places to be active in Wake, Lee, and Harnett Counties. Over the past few months, we have conducted end of year site visits and will be posting brief summaries of the work being done by each grant site. Today’s spotlight is on the Harnett Voices for Community and Leadership Development Garden, McLean Chapel Community Garden at Moffitt Point and the Peace and Unity Community Garden.
Harnett Voices for Community and Leadership Development Garden – Erwin
Kittrane Sanders, who heads up the Harnett Voices for Community and leadership Development Garden, has been working with Voices into Action, the Riverside Community, and the Conservation Fund, to bring the community within Harnett a self-sustainable produce market and local park. Kit has been able to get students involved from the local schools and community to help nourish a twenty bed garden that can grow produce they can give and sell back the community. This community development program hopes to use their profits from their produce sales on-site to build a local park with a walking trail and possibly a basketball recreation area. Not only are they trying to give the community fresh, local produce and activity but they also have the Master Gardener on their side to spread gardening knowledge to those who are interested in growing their own produce at home. Kit eventually aspires to turn this community garden into a fully functional farmers’ market.
McLean Chapel Community Garden at Moffitt Point – Bunnlevel
The McLean Chapel Community Garden at Moffitt Point is a large plot on a gorgeous piece of land, donated to the church by Mr. Moffitt. Brenda Sutton is very passionate about this project. She told us that she sees the need for a community garden because of problems like childhood obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The garden has become a part of McLean Chapel Church’s existing effort toward improving health and wholeness within the church community.
Brenda has a vision of eventually creating a farmers’ market run by the church’s youth. She also hopes to hold canning classes and to create a food pantry stocked by canned produce from the garden. McLean Chapel Church’s Community Garden has had some great successes. They held a tasting party where they served squash from the garden. At the church anniversary celebration they served cooked cabbage that also came from the garden. They’ve also grown peas, okra, and butter beans. When we visited this fall, the garden had a good yield of really vibrant, healthy collards and turnips, and three women from the church were there harvesting bags full of produce to take home. Future plans for improving the garden include an irrigation plan, a possible change in plot site, and potential collaboration with other programs and churches.
The McLean Chapel Community Garden has been a success due to the hard work and dedication of their volunteers, some of whom were so committed, they were willing to water the garden by hauling buckets of water from a pond about a quarter of a mile away. We look forward to their continued growth and success!
Peace and Unity Community Garden – Sanford
The Peace and Unity Garden has been a proud display of Sanford’s commitment to their community for several years now. This Garden provides a space for families and friends to grow fresh and delicious food for either their own families in the section titled ‘Peace,’ or for the whole community in the section titled ‘Unity.’ Crystal McIver, Alfreda Clegg-Spivey, and many locals have worked hard to help these gardens produce a luscious and successful harvest to feed the community for several years now. This great accomplishment for the community, and by the community, has allowed them to further their helping hand and partner up with a local corner-store to provide fresh produce to a wider range of their community members. The Peace and Unity Garden has also been able to create onsite events such as cooking classes with the garden produce, canning classes, and fun activities for families and friends. The current gardeners also have plans of making a community watermelon and pumpkin patch that will be available to all. The Peace and Unity Community Garden had its first work day for the season on April 16th!