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Together we grow

Posted on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Community garden has bountiful harvest


Kali Bradford


The Tullahoma Community Garden is celebrating a successful growing season – one that, according to garden co-coordinator Renée Trad, includes the development of core group of members, a bountiful harvest of vegetables and more.

“There are so many wonderful people who’ve helped us. It’s still small, but we have a great group of dedicated individuals,” Trad said.

While the garden has continued to see growth through the work of dedicated individuals, garden members such as Sherry Nickell said there is still much to do.

“There are a lot of things that need to be done to the garden,” she said.

Tullahoma Community Garden member Sherry Nickell shovels dirt during a workday at the garden. Nickell joined the garden last year in hopes of having a place to garden and to learn from other gardeners.
-Staff Photos by Kali Bradford

“I think in the beginning people just wanted to help. They had their own gardens and wanted to help get this one off the ground. Now we are hoping to reach out to folks who could benefit from having a piece of garden here who might not otherwise be able to grow things. There are a lot of people who don’t have the means to do so for one reason or other.”

Trad said her own involvement with the garden began with wanting a place to grow vegetables and to gain knowledge from other growers.

“It’s one of the reasons why I got involved,” she said. “I didn’t have a place to have a garden. I’ve learned so much since getting involved. I think all of us can say that we’ve all benefited for having each other. Everyone has their own niche or place where they’re from and we’ve all learned so much from each other. We hope to continue to broaden the group, because the bigger the community, the more we can learn and share.”

Trad said the gardeners are hoping to recruit new members and to make much-needed improvements to the garden.

“We’re hoping to continue for the next couple of months,” said Trad. “As of now, we aren’t sure if we are going through the winter. We are trying to get more people in to see if they are interested. We want to get many people coming out to the garden and the classes. If we are able to get more people involved, then we are able to do more things and have more ideas. Setting up projections for one-to-five years out to not only get more people helping in the garden, but to help improve the garden overall.”

Improvements include a rain barrel system, better organic dirt, drainage system, a tool shed to keep tools and a pavilion for outdoors classes and instruction.

The garden will host several upcoming events in the coming weeks in hopes of recruiting more garden lovers.


Worm Composting

Local gardener and Tullahoma resident Lynne Atkielski will host a worm composting class at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at C.D. Stamps Community Center.

She will discuss the benefits of using worms in the garden.

“We will learn how worm castings or manure is produced and used to enhance your garden soil. It can also be used as a systemic pesticide,”

Tullahoma resident worm farmer Lynne Atkielski has been exploring the benefits of gardening for the past three years. She will share her knowledge of worm farming in an upcoming worm composting workshop on Tuesday at the C.D. Stamps Community Center.

she said.

Atkielski said her love of worm farmers comes from a long line of sharecroppers.

“I come from a long-line of sharecroppers. My mom was an organic farmer back in the 70’s and had her own worm thing going on,” she said.

While it went by the wayside, Atkielski picked it up years later while living in Florida.

“I took a class on raising worms at a place called the Funky Chicken Farm,” she said. “It’s such a simple thing to have this kind of recycling system on your property. You can use it for the benefit of your family. It’s the food, the natural way.”

According to the garden website, gardeningknowhow.com, the worms play an important part in soil construction and recycling of organic waste.

They are part of a network of organisms that turn refuse into nutrient-rich soil. These nutrients are one of the benefits of garden worms to plant growth. Worms in gardens also perform cultivation functions that increase soil porosity and allow oxygen to get into roots. Encourage earthworms in soil or even try worm composting to experience the life-giving effects of worm castings.


Wormy Benefits

The website also states that worms tunnel in soil and eat organic matter, which they excrete as castings.

Worms abound in soils that are around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Any extremes of cold, heat or moisture are not good for worm activity. Worms in gardens are most active when soil is moderately warm and moist.

Their tunneling behavior accentuates the percolation of water into the soil. They also loosen soil so oxygen and aerobic bacteria can get into plant roots.

Looser soils also allow plant roots to penetrate deeper and access more resources, which in turn builds bigger, healthier plants.

One of the biggest benefits of garden worms is their ability to turn garbage into fertilizer.

For Atkielski’s class, she will be giving a practical approach to worm farming that anyone can try in their own garden.

“People will take home a small take-home dish and they can start making their own farms,” she said. “It’s an easy process. You can start now with every-day compost such as kitchen scraps you have around your home. Within 4-6 months, you can have castings for your worm tea to add to your garden.”

Atkielski said the worm tea is just a process of cold brewing chemical-free water along with the worm castings. You then use this mixture to water garden.

“I have been brewing 100 gallons a week for the annual growing season. I use a drip system that releases into each of the beds I need it too,” she said.

Atelieski has also used her worm tea mixture with the community garden and said she has seen a significant benefit in vegetable growth and keeping away insects such as bees.

The class is free and open to the public.


Community Potluck

 A community garden potluck will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22 at C.D. Stamps.

“We will be using vegetables from the garden,” said Trad. “People can come out and pick vegetables from the garden and use them in their dishes for the potluck. Or they can use vegetables from their own garden. It is just a way to share what we are doing and what we’ve grown.”

The event is free and open to the public.

To learn more about the community garden, contact C.D. Stamps Community Center at call 461-1080. The center is located at 810 S. Jackson St. in Tullahoma.