People say that gardening is dirt therapy. As we inch closer to warmer weather and longer, sunnier days, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation’s community gardens offer a great way to enjoy the outdoors solo or with family and friends.
For starters, did you know that there are 17 Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation community gardens with more than 400 plots across the county? And they’re closer than you think, with community gardens in parks, schools and even urban areas.
“We have a long history of community gardens in the Mecklenburg County area and we work with groups across the county to make the program successful,” said Peter Cook, division director of park operations. “The gardens provide a great opportunity for social interaction with people of all ages, and encourage the public to get outside and maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle.”
The community garden initiative has been alive in Mecklenburg County for more than 30 years, and the first garden (which is still around!) started in the late 1970’s at McAlpine Creek Park. The program is thriving with gardens spread across the area and is certainly a team effort. Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation works with the NC State Cooperative Extension and Master Gardeners to keep the program top-notch. They help install and maintain the gardens with fencing, water lines and other development needs, and the Cooperative Extension and Master Gardeners handle registration, and help groups start their gardens.
So what can you grow at a community garden? “The gardens all have a little bit of everything and each has its own unique personality,” said Cook. “Many people get 20-30 percent of their food from their community garden plot.” Talk about farm to fork!
The gardens truly are for people of all ages, and are both educational and therapeutic. Winterfield Elementary and Communities in Schools have a garden program, and each year the students host a Collard Green night for the families to showcase everything they have grown and different ways it can be prepared. There is also a senior population that likes to get outside and get their hands dirty. The gardens are so popular that the there are plans to build a community garden at the new Hucks Road Community Park. Construction of the park is set to being this summer with completion in 2018. There will truly be something for everyone – playgrounds, a spray park, dog park, garden and more!
Check it out: Hucks Road Community Park Master Plan
If you are interested in finding and participating in a local community garden, the list of sites and registration information can be found here. They are popular… Many of the gardens are at occupancy, and there is often an annual fee, but you can always get on the waitlist or speak with a Cooperative Extension team member about other available locations.
And, if there isn’t a garden in your area, you can always start one in your own backyard! For tips and tricks, check out the Mecklenburg County Gardens Gardening Resources and Guides.
So, get your grow on this spring, or just take the family to see some of the amazing gardens Mecklenburg county has to offer. Keep calm and garden on.