The East Side clearly has a bevy of talented gardeners, as evidenced by the lawns and yards surrounding the beautiful homes. I myself grew up with a gardener father in this very neighborhood; I learned how to plan a garden, compost, seed and maintain fresh greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and more. The reward each season is your own free produce, picked fresh and like nothing you’ve ever tasted (if you’re used to shopping at the grocery store). But what if your yard isn’t large enough, or you don’t have the tools for growing? Maybe you have the space and tools; you want to try growing new crops, but don’t know where to begin. The Fox Point Community Garden is exactly the place to go to learn more about gardening and interact with others who are passionate about growing produce and organic practices.
Established in 2006 on city property at the corner of Power and Gano Streets, this land is home to 100 plots, which are assigned to growers through a garden manager. The yearly dues are $25 for one plot or $30 for two. Due to the popularity of this project, there is currently a waiting list to be allocated a piece of land. But if you are interested, don’t worry; there’s turnover each season. Once you get a spot of your own, take good care of it and it will be yours year after year.
Once a part of this thriving community, members can partake in social events such as potluck dinners, seed swaps, fundraisers and – of course – the common workdays, when everyone is asked to tend their plantings and maintain common spaces. These workdays are a great way to get advice on certain vegetables, learn about new maintenance techniques and share the little tricks learned from those with years of experience. Maybe you have been growing tomatoes for years, but your neighboring plot has an intriguing bok choy; what better way to get started and make a friend along the way?
A board runs the operation, and each year garden managers keep track of every member to be sure that general maintenance and organic practices are being followed (so put your fertilizer away). There is a list of rules that, if followed, allow everyone to enjoy the space, but if broken will lead to land reassignment (to the next person on the waiting list). The rules are simple and smart: conserve water by using watering cans rather than hoses, respect those around you by not harvesting in others gardens, look out for the long-term wellbeing of the space by tidying up for winter months.
There is also a list of duties that need to get done regularly. So, after tending to your own garden get a little more sunshine and activity by helping with weeding between plots, keeping pathways clear and turning compost. These may sound like the chores you avoid at your own home, but rest assured, being part of this community will make gardening a hobby you enjoy.
Visit their website to sign up for their waitlist and browse their very thorough and well-organized page. Learn more about the history of the gardens, read the rules and duties for members, chat on the forum, and (if you are starting out on your own at home) their harvesting calendar is an incredible tool. The board is also starting to put together a cookbook with dishes featuring common crops; check out some of the posted recipes and learn about another local group, the cooking club, with many crossover members. So whether you’re new to the area and you want to get to know your neighbors, or you simply want to do an activity with others who share a common interest, this community garden is a beautiful place to grow your passion and enhance your knowledge.