at the Friendship Garden.
It's 6 pm. The gate opens and in rushes the neighborhood kids, with broad smiles
on their little faces. Some running to get the water hose, others to the storeroom
for watering cans, or to look at their vegetables. Then, a few minutes later,
I'm bombarded with questions. "What's the name of this insect?"
"Why do I see flowers on my cucumbers but no fruit?" Then I would
have to stop and look in all those eager eyes to explain what insects are
destructive or beneficial and that the cucurbits (cucumber, squash, pumpkin
and melon) send out a batch of male flowers first then both male and female
flowers. Both types need to be on the plant at the same time for pollination
to take place before you can get fruits. This is a typical afternoon at The
Friendship Garden, a community garden that started in Sumter in April.
The garden is located
at the corner of Dingle and Wright Streets and serve mainly residents of
South Sumter and the immediate vicinity. The Friendship Garden serves five
main goals: (1) Provide after-school activity for kids, (2) Build strong
relationships between adults and youth and foster good community spirit,
(3) Educate participants on the value of incorporating vegetables into their
diets through cooking and nutrition lessons, (4) Beautify the neighborhood,
and (5) Provide skills and experiences that are necessary for the job market.
We started the garden with 30 plots. A total of 70 persons are participating
with ages ranging from 3 years old to senior citizens. The plots are raised
beds made from railroad ties that are 4 feet wide by 16 feet long. Plots
are assigned to individuals, families and in some cases groups, such as
Birnie Center, AME Church, Boy Scouts, 4-H and Master Gardeners.
During the first growing
season, the Master Gardeners planted two plots for the "Plant A Row
for the Hungry" Program. They donated 210 pounds of produce--eggplants,
tomatoes, bell peppers, butternut squash, cucumber, zucchinis, sweet potatoes,
and string beans--to the Emmanuel Soup Kitchen on Manning Avenue. They have
already planted a third plot with fall crops, the produce from this plot
will be donated to a children's home in Sumter.
Gardeners Tumpy (left) and Michelle (right) with produce harvested from
their "Plant A Row for the Hungry" Plots.
date, we have conducted workshops at the garden on Composting, Mulching, Agronomic
Practices and Record Keeping. All of the garden participants chose to plant
vegetables. About 45 days after planting we started to harvest zucchini. We
had so many zucchinis and questions about how to cook it that we had a Cooking
class at the Clemson Extension Office. We made zucchini
bread, cookies, patties, vegetable lasagna, and skillet vegetable medley.
The 10 persons participating in the workshop have indicated how much they
enjoyed the recipes and are making good use of their zucchini. We also had
a Cooking with Eggplants and Butternut Squash
Workshop. Five gardeners
participated in this workshop. They were amazed to see that you could do a
lot more with eggplants than frying it. We made Eggplant Parmesan, Meatless
Eggplant Casserole, Moussaka, and Butternut Squash Crisp, a desert that tastes
similar to pumpkin pie, but has a crunchy topping. We also conducted an I
Love Bugs Workshop. The participants collected, pinned and identified the
various insects found in the garden. See some of the recipies
in one of the many cooking workshops.
Monday, July 15, 2002, we had an Open Day at the garden where the general
public, city and county officials were invited to visit. The participants
provided guided tours through the garden. We had displays on The Cooking
Class, Insect Collection
, Stages of Development
of the Friendship Garden
and Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
businesses provided donations, so we were able to serve drinks and hotdogs.
and Mrs. Smith proudly display the first harvest from the garden.
Collaborating agencies are very excited about this project and hope to make
it a permanent fixture in Sumter, providing a positive impact to the overall
development of our community. We have already started to plant fall crops
and have a few spaces available. Each garden participant is asked to sign
an agreement to obey certain rules in order to participate in the project.
If you are interested in obtaining a plot in The Friendship Garden, contact
the Clemson Extension Office at 803-773-5561, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Garden Has Successful First Season
by Norma Samuel, County Extension Agent (Ornamental Horticulture)
Sumter County Extension Service