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Placemaking in Progress: Gulfport Community Garden

In January, 2014 Camille and I (Riley) launched our first joint Placemaking project:   Redesigning and reviving Gulfport Florida’s Community Garden.

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January, 2014:  Gulfport Community Garden “BEFORE” 

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.

georgeAfter 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.

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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.

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January, 2016:  Gulfport Community Garden (Forest Garden)

You can keep up with the progress of this placemaking project by visiting the garden’s blog.  And if you’d like to make a donation to the cause, you can do so via the garden’s GoFundMe page.

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January, 2016:  Gulfport Community Garden (annual vegetable plots)

(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.)

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January, 2016:  The Gecko Gardeners
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Placemaking 2015: Gulfport Community Garden

Mother Mana’s 2014 New Year’s Resolution was to help transform an empty, unused city lot in Gulfport, Florida into a beautiful, abundant space. –A space for growing food, kinship, culture, and greater self-sufficiency.

2014 has officially come and gone, and we are happy to report that our (collective) envisioned transformation of that vacant city lot is well underway; and the friendships and connections that have come about as a result of this project are greater and more rewarding than we could have ever imagined.

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The garden”Before”

 Here’s what took place over the last year:

 January 2014, we placed an ad in the Gulfport Gabber inviting community members to gather and discuss the potentials of a community garden.

Several people attended the meeting and expressed an interest in creating a space that would foster community, and set Gulfport and South St. Pete on a path toward greater food security and self sufficiency.

georgeAfter 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, Mother Mana was awarded two full scholarships to a  permaculture course taught by Koreen Brennan of Grow Permaculture.

During the 6 week course (which began March 2014), Mother Mana 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).

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Upon completing the permaculture design course, Mother Mana brought the final design back to the other garden members, and since that time everyone has worked together as a team to make our collective vision a reality.

We began the first physical transformations of the space in September 2014, hosting a “work party” where community members came together to sheet mulch the property.  In October we began planting a small food forest in the Northwest corner of the property.

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A few months later, Nick from MicroUrban Farms helped us ring in the new year by installing the garden’s first raised bed. (It’s 4 ft. wide, 8 ft. long, 18 inches deeps, and made of untreated, Farmed Cypress).    And January 17, 2015, garden members participated in Gulfport’s MLK Day of Service:

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Volunteers came together to mulch the garden, and also hosted a rummage sale which raised over $1,000 to be put toward monthly water bills, the growing of food, and education initiatives.. –Gulfport Grind generously donated coffee for the event, and Larson & Son Lanscape delivered a load of topsoil for our bed.

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January 25th we reaped our first turnip harvest from the garden’s small food forest, and also  transplanted starts of beans, peas, cauliflower, and broccoli into the raised bed.  And February 1st we started construction on the tool shed.  What a year!

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(Please note that although Mother Mana was 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 support for this project. )

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