By TRAVIS HANDY
Reserve your plot and grab your gloves and spade. Plans to bring a community garden to Dublin have been developing over a year now and are beginning to move into their final phases before spring planting begins.
Thanks to a partnership between Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Cooperative Extension and Fairview Home, community members are being invited to claim space in the new Fairview Community Garden. The property was donated by Fairview Home, and administration and residents are hoping the garden will assist them in growing new relationships in the community.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity,” said Fairview Home Administrator, Kristy McMahan. “We’re just hoping to have more interactions with the community, and if our residents are out there gardening alongside community members, we’re hoping that’s going to be a really positive interaction both ways, so we’re really pleased about that.”
The Chamber and Cooperative Extension are beginning to offer plots, divided into 10 by 10-, 20-, 30- and 40-foot areas, which have yet to be prepared for planting, but McMahan said Fairview residents are already using a spacious walking path which surrounds what will eventually be the garden. The path was designed, graded and installed by Gay and Neele Inc., a civil engineering, landscape architecture and land surveying firm located in Christiansburg. The project has also drawn support from other area construction companies and the agriculture department at Pulaski County High School.
According to Peggy White, executive director of Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, agriculture students from the high school will be assisting in building handicap-accessible raised beds and maintaining some areas of the garden. White shared her enthusiasm about getting the community involved in more ways than just buying a plot and participating in the garden.
“(People) can grow their own food, it’s healthy, you control what goes into your own food… it’s something healthy to do, also—I think it’s healing,” said White. “Gardening is just a very stress-relieving activity.”
White also pointed out opportunities for strengthening connections within the community and boosting local agri-business.
“I know the 4-H kids maintain the (community garden) in Pulaski and they’re going to hopefully be helping us out here (in Dublin). It’s a way to, I think, keep things local… you can also get your own little sub-business going… that’s what I’m looking at,” said White. “Agriculture is the largest industry in Virginia by far, and so our whole focus here is trying to bring awareness to how important agriculture is so people can take pride again in it, and to help create microbusinesses.”
County Administrator Peter Huber has also been instrumental in bringing the project to fruition. He said he has seen the benefits of community gardens, especially the joy it brought to his mother, being able to garden with others and build camaraderie between people in the process. He can see good things on the horizon for Fairview Garden.
“I think it will provide a good place, first of all, for people to garden, and then secondly, for them to get together as neighbors, and enjoying the gardening experience,” said Huber.
He also expressed his appreciation to all of the people, companies and organizations that have come together to make the garden possible, naming the Chamber, Fairview, H.T. Bowling Construction and the regional jail. Another sponsor named in talking with those involved was ATK Energetic Systems, which used to hold a contract to operate Radford Army Amunition Plant before it was taken over by BAE Systems.
“I’d just encourage people to participate, and the only way it will work is if people will rent plots,” said Huber. “I think it’s been priced fairly reasonably, but I think it’s kind of up to (participants). I would encourage people if they’re interested, to get involved.”
For now, the Chamber, Cooperative Extension, Fairview Home administrators and sponsors are left to anticipate what will grow out of their joint efforts.
Plot reservations are being taken at $10 per plot, and a kickoff and ribbon-cutting event is slated for early April.
For more information about the gardens contact the Chamber of Commerce by calling 674-1991 or emailing email@example.com, or Virginia Cooperative Extension at 980-7769.