This year, Grow Oak Ridge is really excited to launch the first season of the “Grow Your Own: Backyard and Community” Program as a partner site with Grow Appalachia. In addition to helping connect several community gardens in Oak Ridge, Grow Oak Ridge also holds two farmers markets throughout the year and offers several other programs.
We have 10 families in the “Grow Your Own: Backyard and Community Garden” program who are looking forward to learning more about and experiencing organic gardening. We had 3x the amount of applicants than we could accept into our program. Because of this abundance, we recognized an interest in access to education about organic gardening within our community, so we have decided to livestream each of our workshops to the public.
We are so grateful to the Anderson County Master Gardeners from UT Extension, who helped us kick off the program by teaching an introduction to gardening during our very first Garden Planning workshop! Our gardeners left our first meeting with an in depth intro to basic gardening and organic gardening, having potted marigold seeds (sourced from the Oak Ridge Seed Library), and started bean seeds in plastic bag greenhouses. After this meeting, we are hoping that our gardeners will submit their “garden map,” where they will apply the knowledge they learned during the Garden Planning workshop to decide on future crop rotations, how to stack tall and short plants, and how to garden efficiently in a small space without overcrowding.
In addition to designing their garden maps, we have asked our 10 gardeners to each name their garden plots. They came up with a lot of fun ideas like–”Garden of Eatin’,” “Lavender Lane,” “Our crazy lil garden,” “South 40,” “South of Eden,” and “Woodland Community Garden.” Eight of our gardeners are gardening at their residences and two are gardening in a community garden. We are so looking forward to hearing about the ways that these experiences overlap and how they will apply their gardening knowledge to their own specific gardens.
We cannot wait to see how this program grows in the lives of our participants, within our own organization, and the impact it will have in our community. I am looking forward to growing with our gardeners because this will be a learning experience for me too as my first year coordinating. I am so excited to see what the future harvest looks like for all of us.