Community garden program is growing

Published 7:34 pm Thursday, August 19, 2010

Citizens around the community have been getting their hands dirty this summer.

In an effort led by the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community two new community gardens were added to Suffolk and several events at the pre-existing gardens were hosted this year.

“We learned a lot from our first community gardens last year and are working on expanding this year,” said Kay Cherry of the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community. “A large focus of ours this year is education. Output is still important, but we want to teach what healthy food can do for a person and what it looks like to grow it.”

Community garden: The Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community has gathered citizens who are helping back their effort to plant community gardens throughout Suffolk. A variety of fruits and vegetables are gathered through out the year.

The vision behind the Suffolk Community Garden Project, according to its website, is to “grow fruits and vegetables to grow healthy children and adults. We sow seeds of opportunity, education and activity to yield a harvest of engaged and informed citizens who have access to more affordable, nutritious food. We prioritize to meet the needs of the economically disadvantaged during a period of economic uncertainty. We build a stronger Suffolk.”

The two new gardens planted this year were at Kilby Shores Elementary School, with the help of teachers Jill McGrath and Suzanne Stephenson, and The Children’s Center, with the help of the Driver Ruritan Club and Katie Humphrey.

“The children at the Children’s Center have mostly enjoyed the cantaloupe and watermelon they’ve been growing,” Cherry said. “The idea is to teach them where food comes from and good eating habits. It’s a long-term approach to healthier adults and children.”

While the new gardens took some work, the pre-existing gardens have been busy, as well.

In the Chorey Garden, led by Theresa Boone, 125 pounds of produce and five watermelons were grown for residents in July and August.

Residents who help tend the garden plan to work on a cookbook to teach younger people how to cook fresh vegetables, as well.

On Aug. 7, the Holland Community Garden conducted a canning class at Holland Baptist Church.

Garden coordinator Carol Warren and other church members led attendees through the process of canning, using two methods. The group canned a bushel of tomatoes, and the vegetables from the spring and summer garden were contributed to the Cooperative Ministries.
At the East Suffolk Recreation Center Community Garden, led by Michael Kelly, community residents participated in a four-week “Discovering Your Future” program.

About 40 young people, with the guidance of the gardeners, planted nine rows of collards that, when fully grown, will be contributed to the combined downtown church Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Last year, three community gardens provided fresh vegetables to the Suffolk House, Franklin Combined Ministries, Oak Grove Baptist Church and other organizations that help those stressed by financial need.

To find out more about getting a community garden in your area contact Kay Cherry at 446-6122.