On October 24 the Garden Club of Jacksonville hosted its first Community Gardens Summit, the second of four expanded programs the Garden Club is holding this year with the help of a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.
It was an exciting night of discussion and connection between Jacksonville’s community gardens, guests who want to start their own, and experienced attendees seeking to learn a bit more. Guests enjoyed bites from Farmery Bakery and Bodega and had the opportunity to visit the tables of our partners where they could discuss the variety of community gardens from around Jacksonville, and buy delicious herbal salts from Summa Salts and honey from Bee Friends and Farm.
The event was sponsored by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund through a grant to create signature events like these that establish the Garden Club of Jacksonville as the place in the community to encourage environmental responsibility, forge our connection to the earth, and celebrate green spaces.
Tonya Ashworth is an Extension Agent in Duval County and facilitates the Master Gardener Volunteer Program. She also teaches sustainable gardening classes and gives leadership to the Urban Gardening Program for Duval County. UF/IFAS Duval County Urban Gardening Program manages one community garden on City of Jacksonville property at our Superior Street Demonstration Garden location. The Urban Gardening Program assists other community gardens throughout Jacksonville with education and technical assistance to help them grow successfully.
Nathan Ballentine, founder of Overalls, known as Man in Overalls started growing his groceries when he was 8 years old and learned early the power of gardening to cultivate connections with neighbors. He’s visited community gardens across the country and on four continents, supported them in the south for 20 years, and co-authored Tallahassee/ Leon County community garden policies. Nathan offered guidance for new community gardeners who lack an educational foundation and who may bite off more than they can chew. He advises keeping a consistent effort for the best results.
Mika Hardison-Carr is a food security advocate, skilled homesteader, professional beekeeper, and the driving force behind White Harvest Farms’ community garden and community apiary, both located on a 10.5-acre urban organic farm in North Jacksonville. Mika’s extensive travels across the country have allowed her to deeply explore local food systems with a strong emphasis on self-reliance and sustainability. She loves seeing children learn where their groceries come from as she works to solve food deserts in Jacksonville. Mika strongly advises that community gardeners work before 11 a.m. to beat the heat!
Kira Mauro has been planting in Dig Local’s community gardens since the founding of the Beaches Organic Community Garden in 2008 and currently serves as Dig Local‘s Board President. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering as a Florida Master Gardener and pitchforking compost. Kira emphasized the importance of attending council meetings to speak up for community gardens, and to meet those next door who may not want them in their neighborhood’s backyard.
Hirtus Wyche is a native of Jacksonville who grew up on the north side in the New Town Success Zone Community. He is a graduate of Edward Waters University with a degree in education. He manages the New Town Urban Farmacy in partnership with New Town and Wealth Watchers. Hirtus spoke on how community gardens deter crime and foster community connection by fulfilling an unmet need. He also offered irrigation strategies such as drip irrigation systems, rainwater harvesting, and efficient watering schedules.
Community of Gardens
Marianne Salas, Garden Club of Jacksonville board member, gave a special opening presentation on the Smithsonian’s Community of Gardens. Community of Gardens is the Smithsonian’s digital home for sharing and preserving the stories of gardens and the gardeners who make them grow. All of its material comes from real garden growers around the United States, with each submission noted on a digital map, including photos and an information page. From small, private family gardens started by a grandparent, to neighborhood community gardens, Community of Gardens is a growing resource to ensure their stories and history are preserved for researchers, students, and the interested public.
The Garden Club of Jacksonville had thirteen wonderful partners who offered guests information about their efforts to influence and support the growth of community gardens around Jacksonville. Bee Friends Farm sold their delicious honey, and Summa Salts sold their herbal infused salts. Farmery Bakery and Bodega had a delicious selection of ready-to-eat salads and sandwiches, grab-and-go meals, pastries, flavored lemonade.
Arlington Community Garden
Beaches Organic Community Garden
Bee Friends Farm
Community of Gardens
Dutton Island Garden
Eat Your Yard Jax
Farmery Bakery & Bodega
Inspire to Rise
Man in Overalls
New Town Urban Farmacy
Riverside Avondale Community Garden
UF|IFAS Duval County Extension
White Harvest Farms