The Village Community Garden and the introduction of new technology to advance farming practices
Eda Garcia, Fort Valley State University
Southern Sky Center for Diverse Arts and Culture, Inc. (Southern Sky Center) and its founders Eda Garcia and Sam X in collaboration with Fort Valley State University, School of Agriculture established The Village Community Garden. Southern Sky Center for Diverse Arts and Culture formally requested from the City of Sylvester approximately 5 acres of land to be dedicated specifically to The Village Community Garden and its residents.
The community garden planted its first seed in spring 2016 upon the authority of the City of Sylvester to occupy the plot of land allocated for the project. The garden produces fruits, flowers, herbs, and vegetables, as well as has become an excellent gathering place for children, youth and community members to work, learn together and engage in productive, empowering horticulture activities like gardening, landscaping, as well as learning about land cultivation and traditional and modern farming practices.
Fruit trees and vine-grown fruits do well, given the rich southwest Georgia soil. Southern Sky enlists youth from the community to learn alongside Fort Valley State University expert horticulturalist for research and learning.
The Village Community Garden has become well known as a family affair in which youth and community members come together to prepare the land for planting and assist with planting small fruit trees, fruits, and vegetables. Everyone is tasked with caring for the trees and harvesting the fruits and vegetables.
The garden offers a supportive and educational environment that is safe and family-oriented. It is understood that Sylvester Georgia, Worth County is considered ideal for gardening and agricultural uses The Village Community Garden, is the first of its kind to bring a community together in this way.
The community garden project works with community youth children to plant a large variety of garden vegetables, fruits, trees, and flowers. The hands-on experience of planting, cultivating, and harvesting teaches our children how to co-create with the environment and the importance of planning today for a bountiful tomorrow. We participate in Sylvester's Farmers Market so that children who participate in the garden project could sell their harvest to the community, thereby exposing them to entrepreneurial skills and instilling a valuable economic lesson. The proceeds from the sales assists in sustaining The Village Community Garden.
We always intended for the community garden to be educational for our children so that they will understand the value of protecting the earth for our future. The community garden teaches youth in our community to plant, care for, and harvest fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs in the garden. The largely edible garden teaches community members how to prepare the items from the garden. With the help of the master gardeners, Fort Valley State University School of Agriculture, students learn culinary skills from the garden, youth learn that the Community Garden is a teachable tool.
Community members will develop camaraderie through their efforts of tending the garden throughout the year. Children and families begin the process of creating conditions within their environments that will bring about social interactions, neighborhood beautification, improved self-esteem and a general pride for what has been accomplished through a community effort. By contributing to local, sustainable food systems, the impact results in improving job skills and employment opportunities; addressing the need for green spaces, aesthetics, and lowering crime in rural neighborhoods.
The overarching long-term goals include improving families and community members quality of life by providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development, encouraging self-reliance, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise and education.