Will our garden grow?

Slowly the budding flower rises from the dust, drinking in the early summer rains and preparing to stretch out its leaves to soak in the sun. All around the neighborhood families step from their homes to do the same. To drink in the energy of the summer sun. To revel in the life-giving power of the sprinkling rain.

Much like our community – built upon the dust so long ago and continuing to grow and change and to show our colors to the world – a garden is a place of peace, home and the ever-present signs of growth.

Soon, there may be the opportunity to grow something new. With the help of the dedicated volunteers heading up the Grow Your Haven Garden Pilot Project, we are exploring what it would take to offer the Greater Belhaven Neighborhoods the opportunity to support the creation of a beautiful, live-giving community garden. Will you help us find out what it would take to bring this idea to life?

Grow Your Haven Garden Pilot Project

In May these hard-working volunteers created the concept for a sample of what the project could bring to the Greater Belhaven Neighborhoods – a small container garden to beautify the entry of the GBF office at 954 E Fortification Street. The garden contains plants that attract butterflies, flowers for cutting, and a selection of herbs which will be used later this year in popsicles at Deep South Pops.

The volunteers involved hope that this pilot garden will engage people in a conversation about the potential of a full community garden to be created in the spring of 2018. The volunteer team will be creating a proposal for the GBF board over the next few months, which will include research on possible garden locations, best practices learned from other communities, how to avoid obstacles, and what administrative structure might be best for such a garden.

The American Community Gardening Association tells us that “community gardening improves people’s quality of life by providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development, stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education.”

Rebecca Cowan, a volunteer for the Grow Your Haven Pilot Project, believes that a community garden has a deep, personal impact on those involved, as well as on the strength of the community as a whole.

She says, “I have been in the Jackson area for 3 years now and this pilot project made me feel a part of a community and allowed me to make new friends who I may have never crossed paths with before. I believe if we do a larger garden that the neighborhoods could be a part of, we will build more relationships and strengthen our community as well as have some wonderful produce and flowers to show for our hard work! I also look forward to meeting people with more knowledge on gardening so I can improve my skills! I am hopeful that this project goes forward as it has already had such a positive impact in my life.”

“Our task is to build community within the neighborhood. The idea of community starts with sharing and caring, neighbors looking after each other and acting in unison. The idea of a community garden represents all the aspects of community, helping and sharing in a common cause with benefits to all,” said Robb Far, GBF Board Member and Design Committee Chair.

How You Can Help Us Make Our Garden Grow

The sample garden is more than a sampling of native Mississippi plants, fragrant herbs and bright, eye-catching flowers; it is the beginning of a conversation. And now it is time to lend your words to the growing discussion.

During the annual Bright Lights Belhaven Nights event, to be held August 12 along Carlisle, Kenwood, and Belhaven Park, you will have the opportunity to answer a survey conducted by the Grow Your Haven Garden Pilot Project volunteers. Located at the GBF tent at the festival, the volunteers will be on hand to hear your ideas, answer questions and gather information from all who would seek to help.

Before the event, share this post and discuss the impact of a community garden with your friends and neighbors. The support of the residents, business owners and other community members is the very foundation of projects like these, and the project will need this support to come to fruition.