Thursday, July 16, 2009

Community gardens, a growing trend

It's homegrown and you can do it with your own hands
By Mary Reid Barrow
The Virginian-Pilot

Bean vines are being trained on string to grow from the ground up and twine around the umbrella spokes – a bean pole of sorts.

Other whimsical touches dot the paths , vegetables and flowers on the 20-by-20-foot plot of land that the couple rents for $400 a season.

Several times a week, Friedman and Schaefer travel 25 minutes from their home on Broad Bay Island in Virginia Beach to plant, weed and enjoy their “great little spot in the country,” as Friedman calls it.

Theirs is one of 13 organic garden plots at Pungo Naturals Farm at 1813 Gum Bridge Road. Owners Linda and Kevin Sullivan not only rent plots but also grow organic produce for Community Supported Agriculture baskets.

Spurred on by trends across the country , including Buy Fresh Buy Local and the Slow Food movements, along with symbols like Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden at the White House, Pungo Naturals and several other community gardens of sorts have sprouted in the area this year.

The economy’s downtown, a desire to reduce one’s carbon footprint to protect the environment, concern for food safety, and cravings for tasty fresh food drive folks to pick up hoes and work the earth themselves.

Food safety is one of the aspects important to Schaefer.

“I do think people should be aware of where their food comes from,” she said.

That was one of many reasons that Virginia Beach Horticulture Extension agent Susan French urged the Virginia Beach Master Gardeners to plant a demonstration vegetable garden at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market in Virginia Beach.

“Last year, I was inundated with calls from individuals seeking information on vegetable gardens,” French said.

People were not only interested in food safety, she said, but they also wanted to save money. Many had a heightened environmental awareness, and almost everybody was interested in providing good, nutritious food for their families.

See:Community gardens, a growing trend

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