SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — It starts with good earth, and that requires truckloads of mulch and horse poop turned with scraps from local restaurants.
For months, people who grow their own kale have been layering and mixing compost at 6011 Highland Ave.
Seminole Heights gardeners are recognized for starting the city's first community garden a little more than a mile south of the Highland plot.
And as luck has it, they will soon have two gardens.
"We've sprouted," said Denise Moore, the garden's president.
The gardeners knew six years ago when they turned the soil at 407 W Violet St. that the land was on loan until the property sold. So when the owners put the property on the market, the group started looking for space and soon found the Highland site. They sought city approval and started preparing the soil.
Then, someone made an offer to buy the Violet Street property. It is under contract, and the new owners plan to keep the community food garden operating.
"If you've been there, you know it's a beautiful garden and totally organic," Moore said at a meeting earlier this week at the Seminole Heights branch library, where she announced the news. "Now, we are Seminole Heights Gardens."
For now, the $35 annual membership fee will allow access to both gardens. There are 25 paid members and 407 people on the mailing list.
Moore told a dozen people gathered at the meeting how to sign up for a committee and what to expect on a Saturday morning, when most of the work is done. She told them about the two hens that live on the grounds, turning the soil and leaving droppings under their movable cage.
Anyone can join. Members come from South Tampa and Forest Hills. The garden operates year-round and sometimes hosts breakfasts and dinners on the space.
The gardeners are working to fence in the Highland space and have applied for a grant to buy an irrigation system.
Expect a bounty of fennel, kale, mustard greens, pineapples and sweet potatoes.
"We give it away to neighbors and members. Whoever comes on Saturday during harvest," Moore said.