Tampa’s Free Garden Network

Posted on September 4, 2012


The Tampa Free Skool Garden install went well. It reminded me, yet again, that for all the buckets upon buckets worth of rabbit poop we have (excellent fertilizer guys!), it hardly makes a dent when you’re filling an 8 inch deep raised bed. I had these grandiose plans of filling that bed up and the kiddy pool, and maybe actually creating a separate lasagna mulched bed as well. Right. We filled up half of the raised bed and the kiddy pool.

Natalia D. brought some awesome donor starts of hot peppers, peanuts, and eggplants, so we went ahead and transplanted those in along with some transplanted basil and unknown pepper varieties from our large pentagon around the oak tree that quickly became overgrown with grass we introduced during poorly planned lasagna mulching we initially put in the area.

In between the transplants a few gardeners/students planted some Five Color Silverbeet Chard. Chard is my husband’s favorite thing ever, next to beets, but no wonder since they are basically kissing cousins they’re so closely related. We overbought mustard greens and chard seeds in one of my seed-whore crazes, so we’ll be growing a boat load of those for quite some time and donating/trading seeds with every gardener we know.

My biggest question, which I need to raise with the group of people involved in this endeavor of turning our side yard into a community haven-garden, is how does one account for the harvest or divvy it up among participators. I’m not interested in even trying to glean from this garden since we have so much backyard space that needs cultivating and I don’t want to feel like I’m stealing from the people, but I’m not sure how community garden split up the community yield versus the individual plots, since we don’t really have enough space to make individual plots a super feasible/fair option. Anyone a part of a community garden or have any ideas toward this end? I may just consult the Seminole Heights Community Garden and see how they do that, and take a hint from a practiced group of folks.

I’m excited about the fact that the turnout was quite good, but better than that, there have been floating rumors and discussions about personal-turned-community “yardens” as I’m calling our space popping up in several more areas. A few people had volunteered their space for the garden at the original idea and several of them are still talking about offering up their spaces for the community to turn into a plot of shared edibles (and Jill even considered fattening up a pig in a corner of her backyard!). The idea of a network of community gardens is something I’ve loved since I read Novella Carpenter’s Farm City and heard about the City Slicker Farms in Oakland, CA so the possibility of something similar happening in Tampa makes me a little giddy.

Related news: Nate and I know that anyone with a truck will never need to scrape together table scraps to get a decent compost pile going, and we’ll never actually need to dumpster dive to amend the compost pile again since we found the Farmer’s Market on Hillsborough Ave. with their mounds and mounds of rotting and non-rotting produce. We brought home 50 or so gallons of rotting produce to put in the pile – Nate and I have the greatest date nights, what can I say!


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