The City of Tullahoma Parks and Recreation Department is revving up for the upcoming planting season with the help of Renée Trad, Kim Bettencourt and Ian Anderson, the center’s building and grounds manager.
The community garden is entering its third year, and Bettencourt said the group is excited to begin this year’s garden and is inviting the community to get involved.
“We welcome the community and would like to encourage all garden enthusiasts, master gardeners and those who would like to learn more about gardening to sign up at the community center to become part of the exciting collaborative effort to grow this year’s educational, demonstration garden,” said Bettencourt.
Located at C.D. Stamps Community Center on South Jackson Street, the garden was originally installed in 2014 after the city was awarded a grant for its construction.
In a 2014 interview with The News, Tullahoma Parks and Recreation Department Director Kurt Glick said he and his staff became aware of the grant after hosting a community garden workshop.
“We found out that there was a grant available through TPRA (Tennessee Parks and Recreation Association) after we hosted a workshop in June at the D.W. Wilson Community Center,” Glick said. “A couple of our staff members participated in the workshop and after learning more about the program we decided to apply for the grant.”
After applying and being awarded the grant in 2014, the garden was constructed. Over the last three years, volunteers such as Trad have worked in the garden and are looking forward to involving more of the community in 2017.
“When I arrived here in Tullahoma we bought a house with a shaded backyard. I then did some research on community gardens in Tullahoma and I saw that C.D. Stamps had one and I then became involved. I volunteered with the garden last year. I’ve always thought it would be neat to be part of a community, to be part of something big. Getting fresh produce makes me happy. I love feeding my family fresh produce and also growing it,” said Trad.
Both Trad and Bettencourt are master gardeners. The Trads began gardening while living in Montgomery, Alabama.
“I started when we lived in Alabama,” she said. “I got into gardening because I enjoyed being outside and I enjoyed a place to ourselves. We had bought a house and we enjoyed learning about landscaping and gardening. I wanted to learn more and so I became more involved with the master gardener program in Alabama. When I got to California, I had my son and took a few years off from gardening. When it was time for him to go to preschool, I found a school garden up the road that I could help with. It was a great experience. After moving here I had asked Frances (Samples) if she knew of anyone at the extension (University of Tennessee Extension) who would be interested in doing classes. She helped me get a hold of Kim and we teamed up. It’s been great so far and I think between us we can do a lot of good with the garden. I’m glad we have both of us, because by myself it could be very overwhelming.”
For her work with the garden, Trad said she helps educate the public on the benefits of a community garden.
“I’m hoping they will learn more about eating healthy and will try new fruits and vegetables that we might put out. I also hope we are able to
show them how to start their own garden or maintain their own landscaping,” she said.
Bettencourt’s involvement with gardening started in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
“I built a sanctuary garden in my backyard,” she said. “I’ve always had a love for gardening. I was a weekend gardener when I owned my business and while raising our children.”
Bettencourt said after moving to Tullahoma, she achieved a longtime dream of becoming a master gardener by enrolling classes at the University of Tennessee Extension office in Coffee County.
“I’m still familiarizing myself with planting in Zone 7 and working to build another sanctuary in our current home,” she said.
Now affiliated with Tullahoma Parks and Recreation, Bettencourt is excited to work with the community.
“I’d like to see all levels with gardening experience join, so those who are learning are able to have a great source of inspiration, knowledge and such,” she said.
The Tennessee Extension Master Gardener Program provides volunteer services for the University of Tennessee Extension. Certified Extension Master Gardeners are trained by Tennessee Extension professionals to provide sound, practical, research-based information to the public in the area of residential and consumer horticulture.
For more information, visit online at https://extension.tennessee.edu/mastergardener.
Bettencourt and Trad will host a class in plant propagation and soil preparation from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25.
All garden enthusiasts in the community are welcome to attend. Trad said the class will be the first of many in 2017 with dates for future classes to be made available at the community center and announced publicly.
“We are going to talk about seeding preparation or starting seeds indoors along with soil and what kind of soil to use,” said Trad. “It will also give those a chance who want to work with us a chance to ask questions about the garden. All levels of experience are welcome. No previous gardening experience is required.”
Trad said this year’s garden will be a cooperative and demonstration garden.
“We are doing a cooperative garden, which we are calling a cooperative and demonstration garden,” she said. “We are hoping that instead of everyone getting on plot, we want to crop rotate. It’s good for the plants because when you rotate to different beds it keeps bugs and pests from getting back into to the same beds.
This year we will work with those who are interested in being part of the garden to see what they are interested in growing. Then we will plan it out and have them come out and plant seeds and help tend to the garden.”
Bettencourt invites the community to be a part of a successful gardening season.
“All levels of knowledge and gifts of labor will be appreciated,” she said. “We have 18 large raised beds, two of which are designated for handicap access. The rec center’s goal is to create a bountiful garden and to work collaboratively with members of the community who would like to be involved,” said Bettencourt. “Our vision is to create a garden for teaching and for learning, something that students may benefit from during a field trip or visit. We would like this garden to help increase awareness, for young and older alike, and for all to enjoy. Our mission, as always, is to build strength and fellowship within the community.”
For more information contact Bettencourt by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 843-683.-2742; or Trad by email at email@example.com or 334-450-5236.