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Community Garden Expanding Donations

Dunwoody Woman’s Club joins garden’s charitable growing efforts; food beds at Saint Pat’s become an independent garden

The Community Garden will mark its third anniversary next month by redefining its presence in the community.

Since the garden was founded on Aug. 23, 2009, one of its guiding principles has been that 20 percent of its space would be allocated to charity beds. Currently, more than 30 percent of the planted areas in the main garden and greenhouse are devoted to charity.

The primary benefactor of the charity beds has been Malachi’s Storehouse at Saint Patrick’s Episcopal Church, which is located directly across North Peachtree Road from Brook Run Park, the site of the Community Garden.

The food pantry garden at Saint Patrick’s, The Garden of Eatin’, which has been assisted by volunteers from the Community Garden and donates its produce to Malachi’s Storehouse, has decided to step away from its relationship with the Community Garden. The reason behind the decision is so other groups can benefit from the community garden's charitable donations.

The Saint Patrick’s garden was started by Community Garden Founder Pattie Baker and several others. It has flourished under her leadership and that of Saint Pat’s parishioners James Tola and Nancy Armstrong.

The Community Garden, in conjunction with the Dunwoody Woman’s Club, is now designating its charity harvests to go to the Interfaith Outreach Home in Clarkston.

Nicole Maslanka, a Community Garden Board member, said it’s important for the community to know that the garden is not only continuing its commitment to charitable giving but is actually increasing it through expansion of the greenhouse beds and an increased variety of produce grown in the greenhouse. “Last year, predominantly only greens were grown year round,” she said of the greenhouse growing beds. “We now have tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, chard and other produce growing in the greenhouse. We will have much more variety grown in the greenhouse this coming winter, including beans, kale, chard, winter tomatoes, lettuces and spinach,” she added. 

The Community Garden’s three years of contributions to Malachi’s and help in starting the Saint Pat’s garden have been deeply appreciated by the leadership there.  “We are so deliriously grateful to the Community Garden for setting beds aside for donations from the very beginning and for raising the money to get us our own beds,” said Kathy Malcolm Hall, co-director of Malachi’s Storehouse.  “Our garden is growing. Every time I go to Malachi’s on Wednesday for our weekly food distribution, it seems like something else has been added to the garden.”

The additional garden space will be put to good use with the loss of the Community Garden harvests, which Hall says make up about 20-40 percent of the annual average of food Malachi’s distributes to approximately 500 people a week. “The Garden of Eatin’ now has the opportunity to rise to the challenge,” she said.

“Wherever the food goes is the place it needs to be,” Hall said of the Community Garden donations. “As long as the people who are getting the food are the people who need it, it makes me really happy.”

“There are 10 families at the Interfaith Outreach Center who really need good fresh organic produce,” said Kathy Hanna, who is leading a group of 27 members of the Woman’s Club in growing food for these families. The Woman’s Club is growing produce in three raised beds in the greenhouse complex in Brook Run Park. They are renting two of the beds and the Community Garden has temporarily loaned them the third one, according to Diana Wood, the Community Garden greenhouse project leader. The raised beds were built by Michael Henley for a project to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

“The recipients of the donated food will be at the Clarkston home until they are on their feet and able to save enough for a down payment on an apartment or a home,” Hanna said, adding that this usually takes about two years.

To mark the transition for both the Community Garden and the Saint Pat’s Garden, Baker organized a thank you coffee at the church on Saturday.

In other gardening news

The Dunwoody Nature Center has been awarded the 2012 National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Five Star Restoration Grant.

The grant of $19,701.82 will be combined with matching funds and services from community partners in the amount of $30,460. The funds will be used to re-grade and restore the meadow and implement a tiered rain garden system for storm water collection.

The meadow area is the heart of the Nature Center because it is one of the main gathering areas on the grounds. It is frequently used for such major events as concerts, the annual Butterfly Festival and for educational field trips that serve schools, scouts and other groups.

Groundbreaking for the $50,000 project is planned for August 18, immediately after the annual Butterfly Festival. A community celebration and open house will be held when the project is completed, which is expected to be at the end of September.

The meadow has been in drastic need of revitalization due to many years of erosion from storm water runoff. The vision for the project includes the development of a linked system of rain gardens for storm water collection. As part of its community outreach, the Nature Center will develop programming around the project to teach students about the effects and prevention of erosion and show adults about how to create a similar project if they have erosion problems on their own property.

A large part of the awarding of the grant is based on partnerships with nearly a dozen community groups for financial and in-kind contributions. Community partners include: the City of Dunwoody, the Doosan Infracore (parent company of Bobcat, which will provide the heavy machinery and equipment operators needed for the renovation), Dunwoody High School, Boy Scout Troop 494, Hands on Atlanta, the Rotary Club of Dunwoody, the Sustainability Commission, the Dunwoody Woman’s Club, Design Seven, Lowe Engineering and the DeKalb County Master Gardeners.

The Dunwoody Green Market’s return to the Spruill Gallery last week was greeted with mostly positive comments and a lot of new shoppers.

“The feedback I got was that many new customers came to the new location and seemed enthusiastic, but some long-time customers did not make it for week No. 1,” said Robert Kinsey, executive director of the Spruill Center. “Generally, the vendors seemed pleased with the results from their first Wednesday” back at their home of several years ago, he added.

“We had a lot of new faces, along with some of the regulars,” said Paula Guilbeau, Market president. “It will take some time to rebuild, but I know we'll grow. We have a few tweaks with parking, so we need to get the weedy lot in the rear cut,” she added.

The market, which had been at Dunwoody Village since 2009, was forced to find a new home in the middle of its April-November season because the Dunwoody Post Office needs the parking lot space where the market has operated. The space crunch is the result of the closing of the Shallowford Road postal facility and the relocation of those operations to the Dunwoody Post Office.

“The Spruill Center for the Arts is delighted to have the market back on the Spruill Gallery property,” Kinsey said. “It boosts the Center’s presence in the community and brings many people to our site.

“A good number of folks who came to the market stopped in the gallery to view the current exhibit, ‘Emerging Artists 2012,’ and to browse the gift shop,” he continued. “The gallery also provided electricity to a couple of vendors and restroom facilities for vendors and customers.”

The market operates on Wednesday’s from 8 a.m.-noon. It relocated from Spruill after the 2008 season because of planned construction, which didn’t occur because of the recession.

The Dunwoody Woman's Club and members of the Dunwoody Community Garden who donated plants for the shade garden in the greenhouse complex at Brook Run Park will have a social on Monday, July 30. The garden volunteers from both groups will get together after the weekly harvest in the main garden and greenhouse area for lemonade and cookies to celebrate their joint efforts of the shade garden. The social will be in the greenhouse area and will include a look at how the plants are growing in the shade and other garden areas.

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