Make us your home page
Instagram

Garden fair celebrates sustainability

BROOKSVILLE — A 4-year-old effort to grow natural produce is experiencing a growth spurt of its own — both in the amount of land in cultivation and in the number of volunteer members.

Auro Community Garden will celebrate its recent revitalization and spread its message of healthy nutrition with a Community Garden Fair on Saturday at its 6-acre property on U.S. 41 south of Powell Road. The free fair will include garden tours and presentations about cultivating and preserving food.

Growing "healthy, sustainable and responsible food" is the aim of the garden, said its manager, Doug Poteet.

"Our products are organic or close to organic. We use little or no pesticides. It's just like a doctor's model: if you're healthy, you don't have to go to a doctor."

The garden is the creation of Maria Scunziano, a doctor in internal medicine; John Hill, a chiropractor; and other members of the Auroveda Foundation, a nonprofit affiliate of Access Healthcare.

They had previously financed a student garden under Poteet's supervision at Pine Grove Elementary School, where he teaches science.

The foundation was so impressed with the results, it asked Poteet to extend his expertise to their somewhat struggling community garden.

"It didn't look anything like this last November. It was all overgrown. It was here, but it was small," he said.

Now, "things are picking up; we're getting a little bigger," Poteet said last week while watering newly planted tomatoes. More planting beds and hilled planting rows have been added.

And, he said, "We've got a little over 60 members now."

Gail Meotti, one of two garden coordinators working under Poteet, led a recent tour of the operation, pointing out varieties of lettuce, herbs, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, peppers, watermelons and beans.

Among the features that make the garden sustainable: Roots of crops are left in the ground after harvest so they break down into nutrients for the next crop, and leftover plant tops are composted to produce natural fertilizer.

The most eye-catching part of the operation is a plot containing 200 towers of plant boxes stacked four high on sturdy stakes and growing a variety of herbs, greens, peas and squash.

"They're for people with small yards and those who have medical issues and can't bend. It's a way to have a little garden at home," Meotti said.

Also impressive is an evaporation-limiting drip irrigation system — pipes laid along each row of in-ground vegetables and rising atop the plant towers. Landscape sheeting runs between rows of plants, forming walkways and preventing weeds from growing.

Members receive a portion of each harvest in return for a $240 annual fee per household, plus 8 hours of work per month. Members believe the cost, and benefits, are worth it, Meotti said.

"With the cost of food in stores and all the chemicals being used, you're getting more people interested in a healthy diet."

At monthly meetings, members decide on the foods they want to grow, discuss chores and share their knowledge about gardening and nutrition.

Members are notified by email when a crop is ready to be picked.

During the recent tour, members were busy cutting summer squash and red dandelion greens.

Washing a tubful of bright dandelion leaves, volunteer Mary Foeller, 83, of Brooksville said enthusiastically about the bounty, "We're going to take it home and eat it."

Her husband, Paul, 89, paused with a wheelbarrow of compost.

"It's all so healthy," he said.

Beth Gray can be reached at graybethn@earthlink.net.

If you go

The Auro Community Garden Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 4095 S Broad St. Admission is free.

Garden fair celebrates sustainability 05/14/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 7:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Aug. 19

    Events

    Monster Jam Triple Threat Series: Come early for the Pit Party ($15 or free at local Ford dealers) to meet the drivers and get pictures with the trucks. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $15-$80. (813) 301-2500.

    A crew member from the El Toro Loco monster truck, installs a truck tire, Thursday, 8/17/17 in preparation for Saturday's  Monster Jam Triple Threat Series at Amalie Arena, Tampa. The event will be held Saturday at 1pm and 7 pm.
  3. There's a bar in Tampa where you can roller skate and eat sushi

    Food & Dining

    Roller skating, it's not just for kids birthday parties and the 1970s anymore.

    The exterior of Pattinis features this mural by Art Aliens! [Pattinis South Tampa via Facebook]
  4. At 'American Idol' auditions in Orlando, there are life lessons in line

    Music & Concerts

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — From her spot across the lawn, Sasha Orihuela studies her son.

    Jeremy Joshua Dorsey reacts after past American Idol contestants walk by ahead of his audition at the Disney Springs in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017. 

Hundreds of people showed up for the first auditions for ABC's reboot of 'American Idol'. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  5. Carnival announces five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Carnival Cruise Line is adding five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba in 2018, Port Tampa Bay announced Thursday.

      Carnival Cruise Line announced additional cruises to  Cuba. Pictured is its Paradise cruise ship departing on its inaugural voyage to Cuba from Tampa. | [MONICA HERNDON | Times]