Posted by: Shannon @ A Dash of Sparkle | March 10, 2013

I’m joining a community garden!

One of the things I love about my job is that I get to connect clients with great community organizations and get involved in some fun area activities.

What started as a simple scouting visit for a client, however, resulted in deciding to join a community garden!


Nick and I talked about our wish to have someplace to grow our own veggies for a while. Neither of us knew where to even begin though. I had seen community gardens when I lived in Somerville, MA, but didn’t even consider they existed in Florida.

So when I had to research some garden-related organizations for a work project and stumbled across a number of Tampa Bay community gardens, I was so excited!

The Seminole Heights Community Garden (who are so well-organized they even have a Facebook page!) quickly rose to the top of my candidates for my work purposes and I reached out to the contact I found online to see if I could discuss partnership opportunities. Thankfully my contact, Elizabeth, was a positive, bubbly woman who was intrigued by what my client was proposing and she invited me out to see the garden.

Finally today, I got out to the site located just a 10-15 minute drive from my place in South Tampa, and just a few minutes off Rt 275, making it convenient for both me and my client!

High fences border the garden which is located in the heart of a suburban neighborhood, so you wouldn’t know what it was unless someone pointed it out.


Elizabeth informed me that the garden had been around for about five years due to a generous offer by the plot of land’s owner, who decided not to sell the land but let the community use it as a garden. Thus, the Seminole Heights Community Garden !IMG_1327

When I walked inside, I was immediately shocked by the lush greens that were growing everywhere in long rows. One large community garden area takes up about 70% of the lot, with smaller circular beds bordering two sides (individual gardens that people tend to themselves vs. the main garden that everyone helps with).


Several people were working in various capacities around the garden watering, tilling, pruning and harvesting.




I met most of them and everyone was knowledgable and friendly, and more than happy to share their knowledge on gardening, and to have me taste everything there…





Elizabeth toured me around and showed me the word shed area that took up one corner of the garden, which housed all the tools and much of the supplies, as well as the “Harvest Table” which is where all the vegetables harvested from the community garden are placed for members to take what they want.


Today’s harvest consisted of red and green cherry tomatoes, cauliflower heads that had gone to seed, collard greens, some kale and a few things I couldn’t identify.

They also had a bunch of smaller pots containing 20+ varieties of heirloom tomatoes that a member who moved away donated, which were being revived. They quickly urged me to take one of the small plants home when I expressed my love of tomatoes.



I wandered the paths with Elizabeth chatting about everything from basic plant care, to the garden’s history, membership benefits, partnership ideas, and even cultural gripes (we both wished that there were more opportunities for community gardens and local produce).

More members came in while I was there, some to work and others to just pick up produce from the Harvest Table. After about an hour and a half of speaking to different members (I found myself talking to an 85 year-old woman from France for about 20 minutes), I was convinced that not only was this a really cool tie-in for my client, but that I was also completely sold on joining.

At just $25 per year for the “Worker Bee Membership,” which gives you access to anything harvested from the big community garden and the ability to come in and work on that garden, I thought it was an extremely worthy investment, especially since this garden is working year round. Ah, such a great benefit of living in Florida…

As soon as I got home and met up with Nick, I shared my garden adventures with him and quickly convinced him to also become a member. Actually, I didn’t have to do much convincing as he had wanted to start his own garden at some point.

I’m excited to meet up with Elizabeth in a couple of weeks to hand in my membership dues and work in the garden again!

My mind is already working on what types of recipes I want to compile for my fresh organic vegetables.

Any suggestions on your favorite veggie recipes?

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