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Friday August 1st 2014

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A Green Thumbs Up

By Jennie McKeon

Gardening can be relaxing, result in healthy eating habits and it can even be a bit of a work-out. Whatever your motive may be, you can create your own green-thumb haven in one of the 10-foot by 4-foot beds in the Hollice T. Williams Community Garden.

“This is the first time the city has done a community garden,” said Kim Carmody, recreation supervisor for Pensacola’s Neighborhood Services Department. “Community centers have had them before, but nothing at this level.”
It was Helen Gibson, chief of neighborhoods, who applied for the grant to start planting.

“There was a one-time grant opportunity noticed by the National Park and Recreation Association in 2010,” said Gibson in an e-mail. “We applied and were awarded $5,000, which we used to construct the garden beds. Plants and seeds were purchased and supplied to the youth growers participating in the garden.”

The garden is located in the Hollice T. Williams Park at 1601 N. Hayne St. Throughout the summer of 2010, Navy cadets and Eagle Scouts from First Baptist Church—about 35 volunteers—built the garden beds. They were under the wing of Volunteer Coordinator Jeff Pohlman. Manna Food Pantries and Home Depot donated seeds.

Usually seasonal vegetables are grown in the garden, but you’re free to try to plant whatever seeds you wish. And whatever you grow is yours to keep.

“I’m not much of a gardener,” admits Pohlman. “But you usually see collard greens, okra, watermelons—whatever will grow.”

There are garden beds for kids and seniors as well. Last year, children in education camps at Fricker Community Center learned the science of gardening. Seniors are able to get active and grow their own vegetables, which they take back to Bayview Senior Center. There’s also a composting site and rain barrels provided by the American Community Gardening Association.

The garden is planning to expand in April and volunteers are a vital part of the garden’s growth. On March 26, gardeners are asked to help place garden beds on site from 10 a.m. to noon. Soiling the beds will begin at 10 a.m. on April 2 and mulching from 5 to 7 p.m. on April 6, wheelbarrows and shovels are welcome. The first official meeting of the Garden Association will be April 26 from 4 to 5 p.m., and a workshop featuring master gardener Beth Boles will be held immediately after.

Garden beds can be reserved for an individual or groups for free. The spring season is the busiest, and there’s already a waiting list. Reserve your spot now by contacting Helen Gibson at hgibson@cityofpensacola.com or by calling 436-5655.

DETAILS: pensacolacommunitygarden.com