Extension gets community garden growing

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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A big work day took place Saturday as the Escambia County Cooperative Extension Service constructed a community garden.
The garden, located on the campus of the Extension Service on South Boulevard, will be home to several varieties of vegetables in the current growing season.
Millie Murphree, extension service coordinator, said the work by more than a dozen gardeners will be providing vegetables for many in the coming months.
“We had 13 working Saturday, most of them are interns in our Master Gardener program,” Murphree said. “We built four 4×88-foot gardens and built a large compost bin behind our office and even planted six Satsuma trees.”
Murphree said the community garden is one of several in the area.
Vivian Layton is targeting pre-schoolers with a garden at the YMCA and Stephanie Walker is working with seniors at the Fisher Center with community gardens there, Murphree said.
“We have met and are trying to see how we can target different people in the community,” Murphree said. “We want to bring something different to the table and meet the needs of the people in the community.”
Although the raised beds have been built, planting hasn’t been done just yet, Murphree said.
“We want input from the community on what we plant as well as sweat-equity in the gardens,” Murphree said. “Anyone that’s interested in gardening, cooking or home preservation…we want your input.”
Murphree said varities of produce to be planted as well as ideas on ways to do some things will be appreciated.
“We plan to use the gardens with the Extension ‘s programs,” Murphree said. “We plan to use this as an educational tool.”
Murphree said the four raised-bed gardens were made possible by a group of people in the community.
“We all got grants from the Gulf Coast RC&D,” Murphree said. “We have had help with tilling the area from the City of Brewton and from Heath Jackson at the Sherriff’s office. Rodney Helton has helped with some organic material and Brewton Feed and Hay has donated some seeds to us. Daniel Duncan, who has a sawmill serve in East Brewton, donated the lumber that we used to build the raised beds. We already feel a great sense of community by the people around us. We appreciate them and we fell like the community is invested in what we are doing.”
With planting season about to get into full swing, Murphree said the next steps for the program will be to finalize that plan.
“We will be meeting again to continue to work on our mission statement,” Murphree said. “We plan to finalize our plan for planting and coming up with a name for the garden. We also want to incorporate some components for children as well.”
If you are interested in being a working part of the community garden, contact the Extension offices at 251-867-7760. You may also call with requests and other interest in the community garden.
The Escambia County Extension Service offices are located on South Boulevard in Brewton behind Southern Pine Electric Cooperative offices.

At left, workers take a break after completing the construction of raised bed gardens on the campus of the Extension Service on South Boulevard. More work sessions are planned in the coming weeks.

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