Thursday, May 16, 2013
Community gardening gains popularity in among McKinney residents
The city now has two community gardens on opposite ends of town.
MCKINNEY McKinney's sense of community is growing stronger thanks to small, shared gardens popping up on both sides of the city.
The gardens offer not only a place to grow greens, but somewhere to interact with fellow gardeners.
Jeremiah Hammer, master gardener and general green thumb, has spent years discussing his gardening go-to's with friends and, with some help from the city and devotion from gardeners, Hammer is seeing his goal come to fruition in a tasty way.
The community garden project started almost two years ago with a group McKinney residents looking for a place to grow vegetables, Hammer said.
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"The idea was that we could create a garden where we could teach people how to grow their own vegetables, how to take care of themselves, and give them the opportunity to give to others," he said. "We wanted to focus on bringing different parts of the community together to focus on helping others take care of themselves."
Hammer asked the city for a plot of land for the garden; the city offered a 5-acre plot that had no water services and asked Hammer and the McKinney Community Garden Association to install a $75,000 parking lot. Hammer mulled over and decided to pass on the offer, and looked to residents to find a more suitable location.
Offers began pouring in, and Hammer settled on a smaller land portion that would allow the association to overgrow the garden, which is located adjacent to Holy Family School in east McKinney.
The 10,000-square-foot site offers 63 plots, 30 of which are still available, and the Jeffersonian-inspired garden has organic mulch donated by the city that covers every square inch, eliminating any barriers to future growth.
"This year was our first full season," Hammer said. "People are awakening and becoming more aware of what they are putting in their bodies. Because of that, we have 30 families that have plots at the garden, which is where most gardens are after five years."
Another community garden has sprouted on the city's west side and is already full for the season. Tucker Hill, a traditional neighborhood development just north of U.S. Highway 380 between Ridge and Custer roads, has created and reserved a garden for its residents.
The Tucker Hill Garden Club developed the garden through donations and land preparations by Southern Land Company, the community's developer. Residents have committed to maintaining a plot for the first year and are now members of the Community Garden Club, which has adopted its own bylaws to oversee aspects required for maintaining the garden.
Vicki Northcutt, marketing manager for Tucker Hill, said a community garden was a natural fit for the neighborhood.
"Tucker Hill is all about horticulture, lifestyle and architecture, and our garden embodies all of these concepts," she said. "We're already seeing families working together to plant and maintain their plots and tons of interaction between neighbors as they share advice on what might grow best, strategies for how to plant, etc. Some of our neighbors opted to share a plot and many have offered to help with the harvest. And, finally, the quaint white picket fence that protects and defines the garden fits in perfectly with the homes found throughout our community."
The entire garden is approximately 16-by-60 feet with 10 4-by-7-foot plots.
Although Tucker Hill's community garden is for neighborhood residents only, the McKinney Community Garden Association's garden has nearly half of its plots available, and there is plenty of time left in the season for residents to take advantage.
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