In January, 2014 Camille and I (Riley) launched our first joint Placemaking project: Redesigning and reviving Gulfport Florida’s Community Garden.
The first step of the project was an announcement in the Gulfport Gabber inviting community members to gather and discuss the potentials of a community garden.
Approximately 15 people attended the meeting (held January 18, 2014)–and several expressed an interest in creating a space that would foster community, and set Gulfport on a path toward greater food security and self sufficiency.
After this initial meeting, the group began meeting weekly to generate a list of specific goals, and get clear on a vision for the garden. As a result of this work, Camille and I were awarded two full scholarships to a Permaculture course taught by Koreen Brennan of Grow Permaculture.
During the 6 week course (which began March 2014), Camille and I teamed up with fellow students Sara Perszyk & Lisa Fletcher to create a design and site map for the garden (based on the vision and list of goals agreed upon by the members of the community garden).
Upon completing the course, we brought the final design back to the other garden members, and since that time everyone has worked together to make our collective vision a reality.
During this time, a garden President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer have been elected; decisions have been made through consensus democracy; work loads and harvests have been equally shared; and funds to cover expenses (such as the monthly water bill) have been obtained through various fundraising projects.
To date, approximately two-thirds of the original design has been implemented, including a small forest garden, community gathering space, and several rows of annual vegetables. –The garden grows as the garden crew grows. In this way, the project does not become too big too quickly, and remains sustainable. Continuing at the current rate, the design should be completed within another year.
(Please note that although Camille and I were responsible for launching this placemaking project, the success and progress of the garden is the result of the dedication and hard work of ALL the garden’s members and volunteers, as well as those who have made donations and shown their support.)