The Oneonta Community Garden has grown into so much more than Oneonta city councilman Lee Alexander ever imagined. It was started this spring after several requests from members of the community.
Located behind the Oneonta Public Library, Alexander, who has assisted in the development and coordination of the garden, said, “We hope that it will be used as a multifaceted educational tool for patrons of the library, members of The Arc [of Central Alabama], and those who come to our senior center.”
The community garden currently contains three 4-x-8-foot raised beds and two smaller ones. All are ADA compliant and easily accessible to those with physical disabilities. A drip system runs through the beds to keep the plants hydrated at all times. The garden is funded by grants from the city, while produce harvested from the garden is donated to the Hope House Food Pantry in Oneonta.
Alexander remarked that he hopes to be more involved with the library and school system as the community garden continues to grow. “The garden has lots of value, most valuable is education and getting kids involved,” he said.
They’ve already seen success through their partnership with The Arc of Central Alabama, which is an organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With a facility in Oneonta, residents have been able to participate in the garden alongside Master Gardeners from around the county. On Aug. 25, after a morning of working in the garden, Alexander shared, “Rewarding morning getting the City’s Community Garden ready for fall plantings. We had some great helpers from the Blount County Arc. Thanks Cary, Devin, Jannette, and Jeffery! Can’t wait for them to come back and help harvest this fall. Thanks to fellow Master Gardeners Linda Knight and Carol Copeland for assisting with the project.”
“I was very excited to work with these individuals as they can sometimes be an underserved demographic in our community,” he continued.
Earlier in August, the Alabama Cooperative Extension office designated the Oneonta Community Garden as a Grow More Give More garden. Grow More Give More is a program through the Extension service that provides expert advice on producing fruits, vegetables, and herbs in every type of space. In addition to the nuts and bolts of building a garden, the Extension service also provides valuable information about heirloom vegetable types, integrated pest management, and how to attract pollinators.
“We also hope that as you grow more, you will consider giving more. Food insecurity in our towns and communities has always existed; however, the COVID-19 pandemic really brought this need to the forefront. If your fall garden thrives, perhaps you’ll be able to share produce with a neighbor or friend in need, a local food pantry, or a regional food bank,” explained Bethany O’Rear, Blount County’s regional extension agent.
Residents are encouraged to get in touch with Alexander or the local Extension office if interested in attending a master gardening class at the city’s Grow More Give More garden.