After the (hopefully) last Blackberry Winter frost on Sunday, we decided to go ahead with our planned planting workshop held for our community garden plot owners.

Last week I coordinated with local farmer Doug Dudley, who has grown many beautiful plants this winter in a greenhouse just outside of Williamson.  He was adamant about waiting until after the last frost date(the 10th) to host a workshop with our gardeners, and agreed to come and sell his plants to Williamson Towers residents (a majority of our gardeners) on Tuesday. He ended up bringing tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, onions sets and eggplants to sell.


Doug Dudley assists Denice Justice

Doug Dudley assists Denice Justice

It truly was quite the site to see. The Williamson Towers is a low-income housing facility, so most of the residents that I work with at the gardens are elderly or disabled. Yesterday, every single one of them showed up to the workshop (which is a first ever!!!) and ALL of them spent money on plants—healthy foods! I was extremely proud of this feat and so happy to see them out there. Doug sold his plants for a very affordable price at $1.50 for a four packs of plants.

Doug worked with individuals to teach them how to properly get the plants out of the little planters, pick off tomato plant leaves and replant them, plant various seeds and onion sets, and also shared his Epson salt with them, showing them how to sprinkle it around the base of the plant and in the whole, which helps to eliminate blight and improves root growth. The best thing to see though was that they were all genuinely interested in learning.

We had several volunteers join us as well, a young boy, Austin, who lives in the neighborhood and who has grown fond of the gardening space, and market manager Helen Stanley were also there to assist gardeners.

We were all there for about 3 hours, and I really enjoyed helping and watching these individuals plant beautiful gardens. The Williamson Towers is a high raise with no additional land, and without this community garden these individuals would not have space to plant. Additionally, I learned yesterday that almost all of them were diabetic (I work for the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition so it is fitting and I am glad to be making an impact) and it is awesome to see low-wealth individuals paying for healthy plants and putting in the effort to grow their own food.

Needless to say this was a proud moment. I have come a long way with gaining true commitment from these gardens, and for them to all come out in support of this event and show dedication was proof that its working.