Douglas to lead projects at community gardens
When Eric Douglas decided to close the doors at the business he owned with his father, he began a search for something to occupy is time.
Since Farmer’s Exchange served the needs of farmers throughout the area for decades, Douglas had hoped to keep busy in the same type of work.
“I have been given so many blessings in my life and I have had little opportunity to give back,” Douglas said. “I think this will be one way that I can begin to give back as thanks for all I’ve been given.”
Douglas was named project manager for the community gardens in Brewton and East Brewton recently and has already begun work to make sure the gardens grow.
“The time to get to work on the garden spaces is now,” Douglas said. “The land needs to be turned and plans made on what will be planted. That’s where we need volunteers to step up and plant the gardens.”
Douglas, who has long given gardeners advice on planting and growing vegetables, said he is ready to offer advice, tips and encouragement for those who volunteer at either garden.
“I hope I’m able to help cut the sharp edges off problems faced with products and problems with growing,” Douglas said. “I have a deep background in agriculture and I believe I can help with anything that might pop up in a garden. I’m ready to get the gardens going and see plants grow.”
Although Douglas said he’s ready to see volunteers planning and planting in the gardens, the type of produce desired may determine when work can begin.
“Right now, it’s still too early to plant things like tomatoes,” Douglas said. “But, if someone wanted English peas or something like that, it’s certainly time right now to get the ground ready and get those things planted. Even if they are planning to grow tomatoes, the ground still needs to be prepared and it’s time to get going.”
Charles Smith, volunteer coordinator with Escambia County RSVP, said few people have stepped up to volunteer and that could keep the gardens dormant for another season.
“We really need people to step up and volunteer for either or both gardens,” Smith said. “We want people to know that they can volunteer when it’s convenient for them. Of course, any work they do in the garden would allow them to benefit from the harvest in the gardens. Not only can they benefit from the vegetables themselves, they’ll be helping to supplement food for families throughout the community. But, we can’t do this on our own. We have to have volunteers who are willing to step up and help with planning, planting, cultivating and harvesting the crops.”
The two gardens Douglas and Smith are anxious to see growing are the John L. Fisher Community Center Community Garden in Brewton and the Ft. Crawford Park Community Garden in East Brewton.
“These are gardens for the people,” Douglas said. “Not only will the volunteers have food for their own table, but they will be helping to provide access to fresh foods for the residents who need it. We already know some avenues where that would be of use in the community. This is what we can do to help intercede to help the hungry in the community — those who don’t have access to fresh foods.”
Smith said he hopes to see the garden in Brewton expand in size, allowing for more produce and better visibility.
“We need to increase the size of the garden at the community center location,” Smith said. “Once we make that progress, we hope that more people will be interested in growing their own vegetables in the garden.”
Douglas said he’s ready to work and ready to pass on some of the things he’s learned over the years.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher of some sort but not in a classroom,” Douglas said. “Teaching people how to grow a garden is just something that I’m anxious to do.”
Volunteers should contact Smith to find out about workdays and use of tools provided for the gardens.
“We have practically everything needed to work in the gardens,” Smith said. “We have the tools for gardening and will have seeds and plants available for the proper growing season. We just need people to step forward and be ready to get their hands dirty.”
To volunteer or for more information, contact Smith at the RSVP office at 867-0256.