This week at the gardens we had two very significant planning meetings for the future of the gardens. On Sunday, we had our first in-person meeting with our partners in McDowell County, West Virginia, who have begun the planning process, and have also begun laying the groundwork for, their first community garden and farmers market. The McDowell community is also a new partner with Grow Appalachia.
Grow Appalachia site coordinator for McDowell, Penni Padgett, traveled to Williamson with her core group of garden volunteers for a planning discussion at 2pm Sunday. The group included the Mayor, Master gardeners and others. In turn, we invited our mayor and core volunteers. Beforehand, Eric Mathis and I prepared a delicious, locally sourced and prepared meal, which was followed by a tour of our garden and a planning session. It was a very productive meeting and out of it came a ton of useful and collaborative information.
Yesterday, we had a meeting with a local landscape architect, Ingrid Curry, as well as local volunteer coordinator Adam Warren, garden volunteers, and garden plot owners from the Williamson Towers. The meeting was called because we recently found out we had some extra money in our budget to hire Ingrid as a consultant who will help to develop a site plan for the future of the Williamson community gardens. Again, it was amazing to see our garden plot owners participating in such an in-depth planning meeting.
Using tracing paper, the group sketched on a Birdseye image of the garden to detail things that we would like to see changed or added to the garden area, to make it flourish as best and as sustainable as possible. In order to do so, some of the ideas that the group came up with included adding treated timber to the outside of raised beds for beautification purposes and sustainability, creating corners for the gardens using fencing and fruit trees, and planting more flower plants along the edges. There were also many recommendations from community members to add a children’s play area, and other games such as cornhole and horseshoes. This too, was a very productive meeting that left me hopeful and excited for the weeks to go!