Not only are the cherry blossoms blooming, but the gardens around Macon are sprouting this season too. You might find yourself asking, “Are there community gardens in Macon?” Yes indeed! There are gardens located in different key areas around the city of Macon, you just have to know where to look.
These community gardens mainly grow different vegetables. From pumpkins and beans to carrots and cabbages these gardens are grown from the love and hard work of volunteers. So how does an idea for a community garden even begin?
Dr. Brian Rood, Professor of Chemistry and Earth and Environmental Sciences, began his interest in community gardens after some worried speculation that there could be lead contamination in the soil. Dr. Rood had his students collect soil samples around the Macon area to allay people’s worries of lead in the soil.
According to Mark Vanderhoek, a Mercer administrator, “There is lead in the soil, but not enough to be absorbed by plants. It still would be harmful if ingested by small children, or if handled often with bare hands.” The gardens therefore do not use soil found in the Macon city area, and instead have soil shipped in from nearby farms.
How community gardens get started is pretty self-explanatory: it begins through the community. An idea for a garden stems from just one person, and then can begin to pull together the whole neighborhood to achieve something unique and special. After the idea for a garden is pitched and accepted by the community, then the next step is to find a site for the garden. Macon has plenty of empty lots open which makes it easier for finding a garden site.
Once the perfect site for a garden is found, then organizing the volunteers to work on the garden falls into place and the growing begins.
The only problem with attempting to get everyone involved with community gardens is that not everyone is available.
Vanderhoek started a community garden behind the Centenary United Methodist Church near Mercer campus, right across the street from Mary Erin Porter hall. Vanderhoek’s goal of starting a community garden was to bring together both the rich and the poor people to achieve something greater. The issue is, what about a single mom who works three jobs? Or a college student who goes to classes during the day and then works night shifts? Volunteering at a community garden simply cannot be at the top of their lists of things to do.
How do we address that problem? With a farmer’s market!
There is a small farmer’s market in downtown Macon in Mulberry Street Park between First and Second street. The farmer’s market was created not only to help bring more people and businesses downtown, but also to help community gardens directly sell their produce to others in Macon.
There will be a grand re-opening of the farmer’s market on April 4th between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. The market will be open at the same hours every Wednesday evening until the month of September.
There has been talk of possibly beginning a community garden on Mercer campus, specifically for Mercer students. In order to make those possibilities into realities, students would need to make more of an effort to connect with the city of Macon and help volunteer with the community. If we can manage to get the ball rolling for students to start a garden, or even just volunteer in other gardens around Macon, it would greatly help the campus of Mercer University to come in closer contact with the rest of Macon.