Transition Venice: Growing Together Community Garden

Three years ago, twelve 6'x20' and three 20'x20' raised garden beds were built on the property of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Venice, Florida. They were utilized by members of the church for a couple of growing seasons but people began gardening at home or became interested in other projects. The beds were left empty and eventually filled with weeds.

In February 2013, Transition Venice member Ann McAvoy, took on the challenge of reviving the garden beds with a desire to offer them to the public at no charge. After bringing the concept to a Transition Venice meeting in March, work began in earnest with a collaboration between the church, Transition Venice, and members of the community. Compost was donated in April and initial work parties met to clean up the beds. By the beginning of May there were sweet potatoes, peanuts, sunflowers, cherry tomatoes, bananas, passion fruit, papaya, and aloe plants put into the ground. It was evident that this was the perfect project for the Transition US May 2013 Challenge.

Work continues at least twice a week. One volunteer created a lasagna garden bed. This is a method of building the garden by adding layers of organic materials that will cook down over time, resulting in rich soil that helps plants thrive. Since the initial planting, sorghum and potatoes have also been added and there is talk of planting food bearing trees in another area. Many more plants will be added as the general public becomes aware of the community garden.

On Saturday, May 25th, Transition Venice had a potluck gathering at the garden with offerings of fresh baked cornbread, whole wheat bread, lasagna, quinoa salad, potato salad, chicken and rice casserole, and watermelon. There were several garden tours throughout the evening with much discussion about the future. What a fitting way to celebrate the beginnings of a beautiful project!

Transition Venice and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invite everyone to be a part of the Growing Together Community Garden - to learn and/or teach, help prepare beds, plant, tend, weed, water. Some of the garden beds will be planted by individuals, but the majority will be planted by volunteers for the benefit of all. Those who volunteer will be able to share in the harvest, and fruits and vegetables left over will be given to other members of the community or the local food bank.

We encourage everyone to come to our workshops and potlucks or just stop by and see our progress. We grow for ourselves, our family and friends, as well as for those in need. We grow so people can learn how to garden in Florida, to try different growing techniques, to have a more sustainable community, to learn and teach self-reliance, and to have locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. It is a place where people can find joy, feel good, meet new friends, and be a part of a wonderful group of fellow gardeners.

As with most community service projects, there is always a need for resources and/or volunteers so donations of plants, trees, seeds, picnic tables, compost, soil amendments, tools, and repairs to the existing irrigation system are always welcome. Ann gives a special thanks to Shawn McCarty, permaculture enthusiast, Mark Kalita, owner of EcoTending, Inc, and Rand Carter, and The Brenda Carter Memorial Fund for their garden contributions and tremendous help in planning and working on this project.

Organizer Ann McAvoy shares her passion about this project with her comment, "Give what you can; take what you need. Growing together, we can do great things!"

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