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Community Garden donates space to Station 18 firefighters

Gift of two vegetable plots solves problem of shady growing area for crew of nearby fire house

Usually it’s the firefighters who answer the alarm and save those in trouble. This time it was the firefighters who needed help, and a Dunwoody Community Garden volunteer who rushed to the rescue.

Some of the crew from DeKalb's Station 18, near Brook Run Park, came to the Garden’s annual plant sale at the greenhouse complex in Brook Run Park several weeks ago to buy a few tomato plants. They remarked that they would like to purchase other types of vegetable plants in addition to the tomatoes. But, they said, the area around the station doesn’t get enough sunlight for vegetables to grow well there.

They told the right person.

Diana Wood, Dunwoody Community Garden greenhouse manager and organizer of the plant sale, told the firefighters there was plenty of light in the garden area of the greenhouse complex. She then offered them free gardening space in a raised bed and along a new wall beside the main greenhouse.

The firefighters readily accepted her offer. Last Thursday nine firefighters from Station 18 and one on loan from Station 15 came to the greenhouse complex to begin work on their new garden area. Led by Captain Johnny Harris, who is retiring at the end of May, and Captain Christopher Williams, Warren Goodwin said the firefighters from station 18 were Eric Coard, Darryl Teal, Trent Cantey, Cindy Clere, Philip Chambers and Orestus Caveness. The firefighter from Station 15 was Robert Read. Capt. Harris said he would like to find a little time each week for the firefighters to tend the beds.

“The firefighters and other first responders have a difficult and dangerous job,” Wood said Thursday.  “We cannot thank them enough for what they do to protect us day in and day out. The least we can do is to give back to them by donating a few greenhouse garden plots so they will have a place to grow fresh vegetables for their enjoyment. We look forward to seeing them around the greenhouse and watching their "crops" come in!”

After a tour of the grounds and greenhouse, the firefighters quickly went to work on those crops. They moved a raised bed from a location that gets some shade into a place where it will get sun all day, added compost to the bed and then planted it with herbs and vegetables. The new crops, courtesy of Wood and the Community Garden, include plants of Cherokee Purple tomatoes, onions and bell and chili peppers and a variety of herbs, including parsley, chives, dill and oregano.

While their colleagues planted the new crops, several others fired up a balky tiller to turn the ground in the bed beside the greenhouse wall. The tiller finally started, but the blades wouldn’t turn. Not known to quit, the firemen dug up and turned the ground with hand tools.

Station 18 is one of three fire stations that serve Dunwoody. The Station 18 crews are responsible for an area bordered by Mount Vernon Road on the north, Winters Chapel on the east, Peachtree Industrial outside of I-285 on the South and Chamblee Dunwoody Road on the West.

Woods’ words about the service provided by the men and women who protect the Dunwoody Community are worth remembering. If you happen to see any of the crew working on their new gardening beds, give them your own words of thanks. They just might appreciate a gardening tip or two as well! 

In other gardening news

The Chesnut Charter Elementary School’s Ecology Club completed its year-long Farm-to-School lunch promotions Friday by treating the student body to a healthy snack at the annual Field Day.

The club, the Chesnut Changers, sponsored two stations at the campus-wide event that offered the entire student body not only a healthy snack but also a chance to meet the farmer who grew the food – Farmer Dave of D and A Farms -- and the chef who baked it – Jonathan Seyfred, who, with his wife, Sarah, owns S&J’s Woodfired Pizza.

The snack featured small portions of pizza topped with Georgia-grown organic produce -- strawberries and mint on one pizza and arugula, parsley and spring onions on another. The Chesnut Changers grew the mint and parsley in the school garden. Farmer Dave grew the strawberries, mint and arugula.

After the pizza tasting, the children “shopped” a farmer’s stand where they received a bag of organic produce (arugula and heirloom “torpedo” onions) to take home. The bag included a pizza recipe from Dunwoody author Pattie Baker (Food for My Daughters) and an information sheet on the Farm-to-School program, a copy of the DeKalb County Wellness Policy, a list of local farmer’s markets and a map of nearby pick-your-own farms.

The Field Day event was completely funded by a grant that Georgia Organics awarded to Chesnut. That grant was funded by the DeKalb County Board of Health's “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” Obesity Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to create healthier communities by implementing evidence-based intervention strategies to prevent obesity.

A new DeKalb County program this school year, the Georgia-grown Food of the Month lunch item, has been popular at Chesnut this year. The Chesnut Changers have actively promoted the program, which has included food such as Granny Smith apples.

Parent sponsors of the club, Angela Renals and Elizabeth Davis, assisted teachers and Principal Dr. Richard Reid in overseeing the two Field Day healthy eating stations.

This was a real education for the children because it exposed them to different food, such as arugula, that they might not be familiar with, said Renals.

   Parents and interested community members can receive information about the Chesnut Changers and their continuing efforts in ecology by entering an email address at the Chesnut Changers website. The ecology club can also be contacted by email at: ecology@chesnutcharter.com.

Dunwoody Nature Center Executive Director Alan Mothner said the center will seriously consider continuing the evening format they used last Thursday for Lunch and Learn speaker Charles Seabrook. A longtime environmental columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and author of several books, Seabrook gave a passionate talk about marshes along the Southeast coast. The topic is the subject of his new book, The World of the Salt Marsh. All seats were taken through advance registration.    

The Lunch and Learn series has traditionally been held during the noon hour, involved a small admission charge and attendees could bring their own lunch. Admission for Seabrook’s evening talk was free and the center sold wine, beer and soft drinks for a small charge.

To learn more about the Nature Center and its programs, visit the center’s website or call the program office at (770) 394-3322 or send an email to programs@dunwoodynature.org.

Green Market update: There is building interest from local retail center operators about reaching out directly to the Green Market regarding the order the Market Board received to vacate its location in the Post Office parking lot, according to spokespersons for the city and the market. The market’s last scheduled day in its current location is May 30. The city was hoping for a resolution to a change in venue last week, according to City Manager Warren Hutmacher. As of Friday afternoon, however, a decision on a new home had not been reached, Bob Mullen, city marketing and PR director, said in an email.

The Dunwoody Community Garden has moved into 8th place in the Edy’s Fruit Bars competition to win one of 17 orchards that will be awarded nationwide.

You can support the garden by voting. Once on the site, just follow the prompts to vote. A voting shortcut is to go to the Leaders tab on the main page.  You can access the Dunwoody garden voting site from this tab as long as the Community Garden is one of the top 10 vote getters. Remember, you can vote once-a-day on each of your email accounts. Voting ends August 30.

The first round winners will be announced May 31.

Sarah A Hummel November 26, 2012 at 04:46 AM
I am trying to get a hold of Robert Read. email me at mantles@live.com

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