University of Maryland Extension

A Grow to Give Garden Needs Your Help

Spring is just around the corner! Gethsemane United Methodist Church’s food pantry and the Food Supplement Nutrition Education (FSNE) staff are planning Year Three of our “Grow to Give Garden”. The garden has been established to increase vegetable and fruit consumption of food pantry recipients. This outdoor learning space is used to provide nutrition education and grow vegetables that will be planted, maintained, and harvested by food pantry recipients in the Capitol Heights community.

Each year, the garden has developed a little more. In Year One, a site was selected, the soil was tested and found to be suitable for growing. Two raised beds and an herb tower were built.  Generous donations from the community and a Garden Grant from FSNE enabled us to obtain all of the needed materials. We were grateful to Lowe’s, Southern States, Ed’s Plant World and Community Forklift for their generous donations.  Last year the garden was expanded with the addition of five containers on a raised platform for easy accessibility by those who cannot get down to the ground. The containers were constructed and donated by students from Carroll County. A fence was added to discourage visits by the herd of deer who live in the adjoining wooded area. Community Forklift donated materials for the fence.

Crops that were planted included lettuce, kale, collards, spinach, squash, tomatoes, peppers and carrots. In addition, herbs were grown including parsley, oregano and basil.  Marigolds were planted to encourage pollination and discourage pests who find their odor disagreeable. Some of the “cool weather” crops like lettuce, chard and spinach were replanted in the fall for a second harvest. In Year Two, we had a bumper crop of tomatoes.

During the course of the last growing season, people often stopped by during garden work sessions to ask FSNE staff questions about managing their own gardens. If staff could not answer the questions, individuals were referred to the University of Maryland Home and Garden Information Center (www. extension.umd.edu/hgic).

 This year, the garden team is fortunate to have the assistance of Master Gardener Renee Bacchus, who will oversee the planting and management of the garden. Her expertise will be of benefit to those who have limited experience with gardening. Members of the community are encouraged to assist with the management of the garden.  And of course, the hope is that some will even develop an interest in growing their own gardens.

 Goals for the garden this year include making that fence even higher (up to 8’) to keep out all of the deer, adding a mulch ground cover between the beds to block out weeds and grass and, of course, increasing the harvest from the garden. The team will also explore the possibility of installing a drip watering system for the beds. Once again, we welcome the generosity of anyone who can assist with this project, ranging from donating and transporting materials to the site to planting, watering and harvesting.

For more information or to help contact:

LaTasha Coleman, Project Leader/ Nutrition Educator
Food Supplement Nutrition Education Program (FSNE)
University of Maryland Extension (UME)
EMAIL: lcolema4@umd.edu 
OFFICE: 301.883.3549

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