By Kimberly Monge
Garinger’s garden is growing.
A team of students and volunteers is recreating last year’s garden into a new project that includes a garden club, urban farm and improvements to the greenhouse.
Ms. Mabe is our new leader of the garden. Last year, Ms. Hendee created the garden and started a garden club where students joined to help plant, water and pick vegetables. During this summer, she moved to Durham, NC.
This year, the Garden Club is changing the whole concept of what the old student garden used to be. The student garden is located behind the baseball field on the left corner, where there were crops such as cabbage, onion, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs growing near the greenhouse last year. Over the summer, the garden was not taken care of, which led it to be overgrown.
The intention for this year’s garden is to build eight 4X8 foot raised beds instead of rows and place hoop houses on top of the raised beds during winter. It is hard to maintain the plants in rows because some people may confuse the vegetables pants with the weeds. Ms.Mabe said that raised beds will make it easier for planting and limit the space for plants to grow. They will build more raised beds as needed.
Students have already begun working with the remaining food this semester. They picked apples and made applesauce. In addition, they want to plant new fruits like grapes, pears, and figs that can be preserved.
Behind the baseball field and to the right of the greenhouse are two poles standing beside two concrete slabs. That area was going to be a shot put platform for the track and field team, but now the plans are for a nearly 2 acre farm. The Friendship Garden Urban Farm will include four 40X40 foot sections of plants and vegetables. A shed will be built between the two poles, and the concrete pads will be a washing area for tools and plants. CPCC students and professors are will build a solar panel for lighting and a rainwater collection area to save water for plants.
Friendship Gardens is an organization that has community farms and volunteers who either grow food in their yard or work in a community garden, like the one being created at Garinger. There are more than 50 in Charlotte.
The food is donated to Friendship Trays, which prepares and delivers meals for those who cannot prepare their own food, such as the elderly. Friendship Gardens received a $75,000 grant from Wells Fargo, for two years to establish the urban farm at Garinger.
Meanwhile, inside the greenhouse the air conditioning/circulation system is in the process of being fixed. When it is finished, there will be three different groups working.
One Hundred Gardens will use about one third of the greenhouse for aquaponics, which is a water-based farm for fish and plants.
In the aquaponics system, waste from tilapia fish provides nutrients to the roots of plants. Then, the plants filter the water to be recycled back to the fish. The aquaponics can relate with several school subjects: a math class can use measurements, a Biology class can study the health systems and survival of the tilapia fish, a chemistry class can study water temperatures and PH levels.
Aquaponics is more than dealing with a classroom lab; it’s more hands on experience.
One Hundred Gardens is based on communities and clubs working with gardens. The main goal is to for every two gardens planted at Charlotte area schools, a third aquaponic garden will be sent to Haiti. The group wants to build a total of 66 gardens here and ship 33 to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
The Garinger Garden Club and the Urban Farm will share the rest of the space in the greenhouse. The club plans to plant seeds to grow into seedlings, which they will either sell or plant in the raised beds. One idea is to provide a farmers market, where they can sell seeds, plants, vegetable and jams to the local community. The money raised will provide more material needed.
The pergola near the baseball stands will become an entrance where everyone is welcome to the garden.
Ms. Mabe relates to the garden because she volunteered at Shamrock Gardens Elementary for three years. She loved how the children communicated with nature. She said her main goal is for students, parents and the community to join and build relationships at Garinger as well.
“The main reason I do it is because I see students come in and they are so excited to get out there… It’s just the impact it has on the students and really the families and the communities. It just filters down. It’s amazing,” she said.
Want to know more?
Garinger Garden Club: Meets 2:30 p.m. Thursdays, at the garden. For more information, please contact Ms. Mabe in room 100c
Friendship Gardens: www.friendship-gardens.org
100 Gardens: www.100gardens.org