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Community garden interest is alive, growing
TroubleShooter Mike Baird: 10.20.08
CORPUS CHRISTI — Sprouting your own vegetables could be one way to hedge the problem of climbing food prices. Community gardens allow folks to share the spoils of area soils, and gardening experts, farm growers and city leaders are poised to help. “As much as tomatoes cost in the store, they are tasteless and hard,” said Wynona Woolsey, a member of the Lantana Garden Club. The Troubleshooter met with the group Wednesday for input to help facilitate the development of 100 community gardens. Portland, Ore., is one of the most prosperous community gardening cities in the nation, with more than 50 of them. About 17 active garden club ladies are searching their sheds for duplicate garden tools, and leafing through resource books to help provide Troubleshooter tips to share with readers interested in volunteering or digging their own patch.
“Green chat, chew and do,” was the tag line for a meeting last month at Oak Park United Methodist Church that spurred a first community garden. The concept climbed beyond the church garden trellis, with other sites sprouting through monthly meetings you can attend to learn about sowing a few vegetable savings of your own.
Mariza Angeles Smith, a retired bilingual teacher and native of the Philippines, hosts a meeting from 2 to 4 p.m. the last Monday of every month at Yin-Yang Fandango’s Tea Room, 505 S. Water St. The next growing gab session is Oct. 27.
“People wanting to dig didn’t even wait for soil testing,” Smith said about the first garden behind the church. It’s already planted by Oak Park neighborhood children with tomatoes, radishes, green beans, broccoli, garlic, chives and cucumbers. Smith has challenged Miller High School administrators to raise funds for raised garden beds behind the school, and she has two other sites in the works.
“We can green up the whole Coastal Bend with 100 of these,” Smith said Thursday, as she poured carrot seeds into a boy’s open hand. She also struck a deal with Judge Joe Gonzales to assign teens to the emerging gardens for community service, and has enlisted help from experts at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Nueces County Master Gardeners.
“It’s a wonderful vision,” said Yvonne Haag, director of the city’s neighborhood services, who agreed that each neighborhood could culture their own interest with adults gardening with children and grandchildren. “There are many vacant properties seized for back taxes that could be used,” she said.
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