Oxford to sponsor community garden

OXFORD – Oxford residents will have access to a community garden project next spring.
“It’s something a lot of people had been thinking about for a long time,” said Susie Adams, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service and one of the organizers. “At the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Oxford, it’s something that comes up every year at our retreat.”
Aldermen this week approved using a site on the grounds of the former National Guard Armory at the corner of University Avenue and Bramlett Boulevard.
In asking permission to use a quarter-acre space at the old armory, Adams outlined for city officials four major benefits:
– To encourage people to grow their own food.
– To donate food for people in need.
– To offer people a new way to build community across socioeconomic divides.
– To form attractive space and a place for educational programs.
“A community garden is a great way to bring people together – people that live on one end of the economic spectrum in condos and people at the other end of the spectrum who may live in public housing,” said Tiffany Bensen, another of the organizers, whose former hometown of Davis, Calif., has a long tradition of community gardening.
The simplest way through any entangling red tape for the new community garden was to make it a participatory program of the Oxford Park Commission.
Thus, the roughly 20 family plots and another nine or so children’s plots will be assigned by lottery. When the legal logistics threatened to bog down the consideration, Ward I Pat Patterson urged common sense.
“For goodness’ sake, let’s not let the lawyers get their nose under the tent,” he said. “It’s just people gardening; all we’re doing is cutting the grass. It’s not a big hill to get over.”
When Patterson chauffeured interested individuals on a tour of possible city-owned sites, poor soil was the most frequently encountered problem.
Even at the armory, which sits alongside a creek, one person familiar with the area said the soil is mostly sand. Organizers thus will spend this year adding organic matter and fighting grass in anticipation of the 2010 growing season.
Aldermen proclaimed their support.
“It’s a great way to bring the community together and just relax in the garden together,” said Ward 5 Alderman Preston Taylor. “I think it’s a great idea.”

Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens/Daily Journal

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