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Fairview Garden still a field of dreams

FairviewGardengroup1-webBy TRAVIS HANDY

travis@southwesttimes.com

 

What began as a plan for a community garden to unite citizens in Dublin surrounding the Fairview Home has only made a slight step forward, and Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce wants to remind local citizens the garden is ready for growers.

The Fairview Home donated a large section of land, which under the direction of the Pulaski Chamber has been set up to become a beautiful community garden, with a walking trail and plenty of room to become whatever else community members would like it to be. The project was a joint effort between Gay and Neel, HT Bowling Inc., Pulaski County Extension Office and ATK.

The group has high hopes for what the garden will be in the future, and according to Chamber Executive Director Peggy White, all the project needs is someone to step up and champion the cause and guide it along to success.

“I can only speak for the Chamber and myself, but I would love to see it become a place similar to the Anathoth Project in North Carolina (near Duke University),” said White. “It is a community garden built around healing, bringing people together and sustainability. In the long term I would love to see Dublin embrace some of the same ideas and make it a place where people can come together.”

White said Anathoth has a pizza oven, and people from the community gather to have events. The garden is maintained by youth, among other community members, who would otherwise be sentenced to time in juvenile institutions. Although the plan isn’t exactly what is envisioned for the Fairview Garden, White says, “The possibilities are endless. We just need a champion!”

The hope of all involved is that the community will come together, realizing the amount and availability of growing space, and join in the camaraderie that comes with gardening. Residents of Fairview Home and other local citizens are already putting the graded gravel walking trail to good use.

The group first began publicizing the project in February 2013, but fear they may have started too late in the season, which could be why people have been slow to claim plots.

Plots will be rented in a variety of sizes and price ranges, depending on how big or small a space each gardener desires. Spaces 10×10 feet will be $10; 10×20 feet, $20; 10×30 feet, $30, and 10×40 for $40. There will be 10-foot buffer zones to help reduce insect and fungus migration. Water is already available on-site. Gardeners will be encouraged to raise plants to comply with organic gardening standards.

Pulaski Cooperative Extension Office plans to bring educational components to the garden, according to Extension Agent Scott McElfresh.

“Our plan is to offer workshops to teach the gardeners about soil testing, plant selection, crop rotations, biological pest control, and various other topics,” said McElfresh. “(The) Extension and 4-H have worked throughout the planning process with the Chamber to try to get the garden going and in helping to lay out the garden plots and water source.”

McElfresh said community gardening is just what the name implies: “a community of people coming together in a garden setting.”

“Fairview Garden is set up (so that) each gardener has their own plot, but like other area community gardens, growers can come together to help their neighbors to grow a better crop,” McElfresh said. “We hope as the garden grows and more people are involved, to build shade structures, have community tools, and a common area where people could socialize, with picnic tables and maybe BBQ grills.”

McElfresh also said community gardens offer an opportunity for hands on education for our youth on where their food comes from and how to grow their own. He also pointed out the money-saving benefits of growing one’s own produce, and that people tend to eat more healthily after participating in community gardens.

“I would love to see someone that believes in buying local and who loves gardening to take this project on and be our champion,” said White. “It is a wonderful opportunity for the community and one that has so many advantages. Even our schools should consider taking on a project with the agriculture classes. What a great lesson on growing and taking produce to market!”

Anyone interested in lending a hand to the project, renting plots or just looking for more information is encouraged to contact Pulaski Chamber of Commerce at 674-1991, emailing Peggy White at  peggywhite@pulakichamber.info or contacting Virginia Cooperative Extension at 980-7769.