Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Town of Signal Mountain officials and residents are trying to cultivate interest for a community garden to potentially be located somewhere in the town.
“If there’s no community support there’s no point,” Town Manager Honna Rogers told council members at their recent workshop after Councilwoman Annette Allen presented the possibility. “We would need to get together a group of citizens interested in overseeing it.
“If the Council is not interested at all in looking at public lands there’s no point in calling a meeting [about the idea].”
“I support it wholeheartedly,” said Councilman Dick Gee. Vice Mayor Susan Robertson also expressed enthusiasm for the idea. “I think it’s a great idea on a lot of different levels, and I think a lot of people would participate,” Gee added.
The seed for the garden came from the high level of community support for the one located at Bachman Community Center, as well as from Signal Mountain Social Services Director Marry Lee Ziebold, according to Allen. The two were talking about ways to improve the nutrition of the food SMSS provides the low-income clients it helps, Allen said.
“Social Services said they would not be officially engaged with the garden but would provide scholarships for clients interested to lease plots so they’re engaged with growing their own food,” she recounted. “Any extra food [cultivated by those families] might then be donated back to Social Services. It’d be nice to create a relationship with all the gardeners to where if they had extra food they’d donate it as well.”
At this point there are no firm particulars, including funding and location. Although several possible sites were named, Rogers said she preferred “not to get into specifics and where to put it” just yet.
“We did not identify any property without a cost of opportunity,” she said in regards to the few potential locations mentioned, which included several recreational practice areas as well as land surrounding the Mountain Arts Community Center.
Rogers advised that recommending where exactly to plant the garden plots instead be the task of any citizen committee formed to bring the idea to fruition.
“For some reason I like it at MACC … but wherever it goes I think it’s a great idea,” Gee said. “I like MACC as a community rallying place. But I think they’ve got to figure out what [long-term projects and enhancements] they are going to do over there.”
MACC Director Barb Storm said she lacks a concrete plan via drawings and mock-ups showing how best to combine all the elements envisioned in the overall facility’s master plan, listing things such as outdoor receptions, a sculpture garden, walking trails and an expanded parking area. Without an idea of how the ideas and space should best be used, she expressed concern at committing to an on-site garden at this point.
“It doesn’t mean it’s not doable, I just think we’ve got to be careful how we use the property,” said Storm. “I’d love to see what somebody would draw up as site plan for that property.
“There are several landscape designers around here, but nobody is going to do it for free.
“To have a competition would be even better because we’d have several different options to pick from; it’s not like we’re putting all our eggs in one basket.”
She is not only looking for site plan submissions, but also area businesses and residents to donate prize money for the creator of the winning plan.