A look at the site of the community gardens where the Auburn University students devoted their time and effort. [ Gulf Co. Community Gardens, Inc ]
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Auburn students tackle Gulf County garden site

A recent reconfiguration of how the community garden in Port St. Joe is managed got a big boost last week from a group of Auburn University students who came down during their spring break to lend a hand to people and places in Gulf County.

For several years now, a contingent of Auburn students have spent their spring break doing community service on the Forgotten Coast while also finding some time for fun in the sun.

Auburn University students were active last week in working at the garden. [ . Gulf County Community Gardens, Inc. | Contributed ]

“They are a force of nature, for their giving attitude and their diverse level of skills. They took on so many varied projects, with their different skill levels,” said Kim Miller, president of Gulf County Community Gardens, Inc., the newly formed organization which oversees what had been known as the Port St. Joe community garden, at 307 Kenny Street in North Port St. Joe.

From Sunday through Wednesday, March 3 to 6, the young Tigers bulked up some new plots, raised the beds of plots, hauled off old weathered lumber, cleared a fence line for expansion, planted seedlings for a variety of types of produce and helped put a new roof on the small greenhouse which is used for growing microgreens and mushrooms.

“The last thing they did was tour the historic Washington School museum,” said Miller. “It gave them a better appreciation for the community and the people they were helping.”

“Through several years of trial and error and watching the needs for our community changing, the nutritional needs both in quality and quantity of produce, we decided to reorganize our program which had been plots for lease by people or organizations or even businesses,” Miller said.

Beginning in January, the newly-formed Gulf County Community Gardens, Inc. organization succeeded the former organization. Continuing to work with Pioneer Bay Community Development, the new, soon-to-be a formal non-profit, brings together volunteers from local community organizations with a mission to donate the entirety of the fruits and vegetables grown to charity, through the local food pantries.

Lots of work is going in to add new beds. [ Gulf County Community Gardens, Inc. | Contributed ]

She said that as the gardens expand, from two to four acres, and to 16 total plots, and as more gardeners are brought into the fold, they are interested in expanding to the Wewa area.

“If anyone has some land, or knows of some we can expand to, please reach out,” she said. “We would love the help getting a second garden started. At the moment we are trying to rebuild our existing beds as they are not in great shape. After that we will start community work days to help move us forward. We want to grow our garden so we can outgrow it and help more.

“We believe no one should go hungry or without fresh produce,” Miller said.

Jennifer Garthwaite serves as vice-president of the gardens, with Betsy Voth as treasurer and Jennetta Richardson as secretary. Nancy Friauf serves as grant writer, and Jerry Voth as at-large member.

The gardens plan to kickstart the new program with an open house and work day on Earth Day, Saturday April 29.

A big open house is planned for Earth Day, Saturday April 29. [ Gulf County Community Gardens, Inc. | Contributed ]

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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