It’s no surprise that urban gardening is a growing trend. Many of us love the idea of growing healthy fruits and vegetables at home but may have limited space and time. People all over the country are coming up with creative solutions to this problem with rooftop gardens in large cities, vegetable container gardening, or the latest buzz- a man from Brooklyn that started a garden in the back of his pickup truck. A great example of a unique solution to a variety of problems is the Whitehall Community Garden right here in north Raleigh.
The community of Whitehall was one of the first planned communities in Raleigh. The residents of this cluster home community were faced with a dilemma a few years ago when the City of Raleigh placed water restrictions on it’s residents. “We had a clay tennis court that needed to be watered twice per day” explains Karen Kistler, resident of Whitehall, “without this water the courts were badly damaged.” The community needed to make a decision of whether to repair the courts or convert the area for another purpose; one proposal was to convert the area into a community garden. “Our neighborhood is mostly shady which doesn’t allow for vegetable gardening in our own yards,” says Kistler. Many residents liked the idea of having a community garden in the sunny spot in the community. Residents completed a survey with questions about how important the tennis court was to them and eventually a decision was made to build raised garden beds on top of the existing courts.
Of the raised beds that have been built, most are rented by residents for the season while some are left as community beds. It’s been a learning experience for the whole community. “Now in the third year we have learned it is chancy to raise the same crops in the same beds every year because of the greater incidence of disease carryover and nutrients lacking,” says Toni Cambier, resident of Whitehall. She continues, “On the other hand, there has been a very low incidence of weeds, so no hoeing!”
The community garden has become another way to bring the neighborhood together. Residents share fresh produce with each other and have workdays for large projects or garden parties with wine. Even the neighborhood children and grandchildren have enjoyed working in the garden. The latest event in Whitehall, designed to bring not just the community together but to also showcase its uniqueness to other local residents, is a home and garden tour. The event will feature tours of various homes and gardens in the neighborhood including the community garden, which will be host to an artisan reception. Many area businesses have sponsored the event which will help fund an expansion of the garden next year. “I think it’s wonderful what this community has created together” says Barbara McGuire of Atlantic Avenue Orchid & Garden, the event’s lead sponsor.
The Whitehall Home and Garden Tour will be held on Saturday July 13th from 10-2. More information can be found at the Whitehall website.