PLANT CITY — I thought I was going to see vegetable gardens, and I did. But I also saw much more at the Plant City Commons Community Gardens (PCCCG).
The gardens cultivate individual growth and neighborhood unity through group and gardening, education, and community. And they are doing it very well.
There is plenty of space for the slightly raised garden spaces families can rent for $35 for a year with irrigation and good soil included. So far they have 13 gardens planted and are already producing vegetables to take home. Three more are being built to meet requests and they hope to soon add more.
This only started in 2012, when four like-minded and determined residents fulfilled their desire to organize this. They started with a space offered by St. Peter's Episcopal Church at the corner of Baker and N Carey St. To launch the garden, they gathered materials to build the soil for vegetables and flower beds. After three years, St. Peter's needed that space for its expanding youth program.
So in the fall of 2015, the two remaining gardens founders went searching for a new home. They came upon the University of Florida Teaching Garden that was not in use and had been ignored for a year with no care. And so became a new opportunity. They have just finished their first year and have a lease for three years more. They held 23 different events in 2016, including workshops and volunteer days.
And they are turning the place back to its former beauty as a botanical garden.
The trees, shrubs, and perennials were still there, though they needed some pruning. A greenhouse is available for starting plants.
The azaleas and a lovely redbud and a pipevine are now blooming in the Teaching Garden. Most of the Teaching Garden is in the shade and there are several places to sit and rest. The vegetable and flower gardens are in full sun. In that area there are some amazingly large and hardy rose bushes that survived that whole year without even watering.
Various sections are being adopted. The Florida Native Society has taken over and expanded the Native Plant section. Lowe's has already painted the gazebo in their section. Another group is considering adopting the butterfly section. There are 15 spaces available for adoption in the botanical garden. Businesses, civic groups, clubs, churches, schools, government entities, etc. are welcome to participate.
Even if you don't live in Plant City, you can stop and see the Gardens any day if you are in the area. There is a gate near the greenhouse. Check their website: plantcitycommunitygarden.com.
You can also support the gardens. Any donation helps them purchase soil, amendments, supplies, garden bed material. You can volunteer on the second Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. It is a great way to learn about Florida gardening and to make new friends and for snow birds to learn more about Florida plants and our upside down seasons. You can attend their events and workshops and learn and enjoy.
Monica Brandies is an experienced gardener, author of 12 gardening books. She can be reached at [email protected] Her website is gardensflorida.com.