The property around the Cherokee County Senior Center is home to two beautiful spaces: the Cherokee County Master Gardener’s Teaching Garden and their Community Garden. The teaching garden has been benefiting seniors since 1996 and the community garden was started in 2010. Being part of the senior center there is a requirement that at least 10% of the plots need to be used by gardeners over 62 years old. This is not a problem and Marcia Winchester, co-chair of the garden, says that they routinely have more than 10%. The garden is a great place for seniors, and all gardeners, to socialize.
The space is made up of 29 raised bed plots that rent for $20 a year. Water is provided until the weather gets cold when frozen pipes are a possibility. Approximately half of the gardeners do cool-season planting. Warm-season tomatoes are the most popular crop grown. The garden is managed by Master Gardeners Marcia Winchester and Gerald Phillips with direction from UGA Extension Agent, Louise Estabrook, and help from Nathan Brandon of the Senior Center.
One of the really unique part of this garden is the learning aspect. In one corner there is a experiment on growing tomatoes
in straw bales. Nearby is a group of potato towers. So far this year they have harvested 8 pounds of potatoes! This garden has a problem with rabbits. Creative ways to handle the rabbits are displayed throughout the garden. Placing open crates over plants, growing runner beans on trellises instead of bush beans, and using pine cones as mulch are a few things the gardeners are trying. These growers are always attempting new things and learning.
Several years ago one gardener got what she thought was rich, beneficial horse manure for her plots. Her vegetables came up misshapen and unhealthy. It turns out the manure was from horses who had been eating grass treated with pesticides. The lesson Marcia wants to share – make sure you know exactly where your compost comes from!
The garden contributes produce to a local food bank, Papa’s Pantry. There are dedicated plots for this and often gardeners share additional food from their own spaces. Another lesson the gardeners shared was related to growing eggplants for donation. They were growing a small variety of eggplant. After donating several pounds of these, the gardeners decided they should go back to the traditional larger eggplants that are a more convenient size to cook with.
Master Gardeners are at the property the first and third Thursdays of each month from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. You can see classes that they offer by visiting their webpage at Cherokee County Extension – Cherokee County Master Gardeners.
This is a wonderful garden and the gardeners know they are part of something special. Louise Estabrook says that each community garden is different and the gardeners can fit their space to meet their needs. The seniors at this garden are definitely blessed! For more information about this garden contact Louise at 770-721-7803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.