Community Gardens Connect, Teach and Feed Us

— Written By

Extension Master Gardener℠  Volunteers in Caldwell County Show Us How

People visiting the garden.

Workshops held at the garden teach local residents sustainable gardening practices.

Each year, NC State Extension Master Gardener℠ (EMG) volunteers share research-based information and promote sustainable gardening practices through community projects across North Carolina. Their work in Caldwell County is making an impact:  helping us all eat and enjoy more homegrown vegetables.

By partnering with the City of Lenoir, Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers in Caldwell County helped establish community gardens and demonstration beds at a public park. EMG volunteers are now using the Unity Park and Community Gardens as their workshop to teach the public how to grow their own food, and, as a result, increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Using a practice known as square foot gardening, community members are learning that they can grow many different crops in a surprisingly small space. And in NC, fresh produce can be grown nearly year-round.

Gardeners plant into a square foot bed.

Square foot gardening beds demonstrate how to get the most from limited space.

To encourage new gardeners, EMG volunteers and NC State Extension agents hosted classes that taught participants how to grow, harvest, prepare and preserve fresh produce. By sampling a variety of recipes, participants learned new ways to cook and enjoy vegetables. Classes were offered to adults as well as children in nearby HeadStart and 4-H programs.

To reach an even wider audience, EMG volunteers partnered with the City of Lenoir to film a series of videos on square foot gardening that were then broadcast on local cable television. And over 1100 pounds of produce from the garden was shared with local food banks and the Lenoir Soup Kitchen.

To recognize this fantastic work, the Extension Master Gardener℠ program in Caldwell County has been awarded NC State Extension’s 2019 Search for Excellence Award. This award recognizes outstanding Extension Master Gardener volunteer educational, group projects that result in significant learning. Banner - Search for ExcellenceCongratulations to Extension Master Gardener volunteer project leaders David Horn, Ellen Roberts, Lynda Campbell, and Josie Varela. We applaud their efforts to make an impact on the health of their community by demonstrating, teaching and sharing best practices for gardening, even in a small space.

To learn more about the Extension Master Gardener program in Caldwell County, contact Sarah Christas, N.C. Cooperative Extension horticulture agent in Caldwell County, 828-757-1290. To learn more about community gardening see our handbook and portal.

ABOUT North Carolina Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

Master Gardener volunteers support the mission of N. C. Cooperative Extension by educating residents about safe, effective and sustainable gardening practices that grow healthy people, gardens, landscapes, and communities. Their vision is a healthier world through environmental stewardship.

To learn more about the NC State Extension Master Gardener program in your community, contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension center.