DUNEDIN — Dunedin Community Garden is blossoming — not only with fruits and vegetables, but in size.
It opened in February, but there's already a waiting list for gardening plots. So next Saturday, organizers will hold a community build day to create more garden beds. And they're seeking volunteers.
"We built the first six in February, and we're hoping to add six to eight more beds," said Jim McGinity, president of the Dunedin Community Garden Association. "My personal interest is being involved in the community aspect, getting to know neighbors and people in Dunedin. The more time people spend together gardening, the more they build friendships. We're hoping people in the community come out and help."
The group has big plans for the garden site located behind the firehouse in Eagle Scout Park on Virginia Street.
"In the future, we plan to have 35 to 40 beds," McGinity said. And the site is big enough to conceivably expand to 100 beds.
Community gardens are growing more popular in recent years, with gardens cropping up around the Tampa Bay area. People work individual plots for a nominal fee, planting what they like and reaping the rewards. Enthusiasts harken back to the "victory gardens" that sprang up during World War II.
The Dunedin plots rent for $25 a year, plus a $25 membership deposit. The upcoming build is meant to accommodate people who are waiting for a spot, and others who may be interested.
The Dunedin Community Garden has acquired 501c3 nonprofit status. Its members plan to seek grants, since fees charged to rent garden beds don't cover building costs. Money for supplies and in-kind donations are needed year-round.
But next Saturday, the membership hopes to get donations of sweat equity. Volunteers are welcomed for an hour or the day. They need help to move mulch, dig small trenches and install garden boundary frames. Pitchforks, wheelbarrows and shovels will be available on site, but people are encouraged to bring their own tools if possible. Extra hands and tools will make Phase II of the garden's growth go more quickly.
Wood borders define each garden space. Each is about 5 by 8 feet and 10 inches in height. Two of those new beds will be deemed accessible beds, with frames running approximately 3 by 10 feet and 30 inches high, meant to accommodate wheelchairs and anyone who has difficulty bending over to garden.
"We're hoping to attract anyone interested in gardening and people who are knowledgeable about Florida gardening," McGinity said. "Growing conditions here are very different than they are up North."
Anyone who rents one of the new spaces will need to provide their own soil and, if wanted, micro irrigation. However, four rain barrels have recently been added to the garden for hand watering.
Can't make it next Saturday? No problem. Gardeners work the second and fourth Saturday of every month to mulch, weed and maintain the garden's common area. Volunteers are welcome then too. And the organization is still searching for a garden manager who would like to share their knowledge and expertise with others.
"The future is very green," McGinity said. "We're a small community organization looking to build through community resources — not only through financial support, but local expertise. Our dream is to have so much interest in the Dunedin Community Garden that we can continue to expand.
"If you know nothing about gardening but are interested in learning, we hope you will come. If you're an expert, we hope you will come. We're interested in people from all walks of life and skill levels."