CARRBORO — In the still-new community garden, April McGreger bent over to pluck a stem of lemon balm from the ground while explaining to Sean Ashley how to tell whether a plant is part of the mint family.
All plants in the mint family have square stems, she told him.
Ashley said he tends to his own herb garden amid his family's larger garden just next door. He likes to drink herbal tea, he told her.
Well, he should take home some lemon balm to make a jug of iced tea, McGreger said, as she handed him the stem plush with jagged leaves.
The exchange Friday between McGreger and Ashley was exactly what the 50 or so members of the Carrboro Community Garden Coalition had hoped to create when they started the community garden.
The grass-roots garden started just three months ago. Now, it's already expanding.
The garden has drawn more people than there are crops to tend to. Expansion seemed natural, McGreger said.
So this morning the coalition plans to hold an "expansion event." The rest of the community is invited to help put up wooden posts and wire fencing as well as spread organic compost.
Currently, the garden takes up 2,500 square feet of the approximately 10-acre Martin Luther King Jr. Park site. After expansion, the garden will be about 4,300 square feet.
Developers plan to break ground on the park in 2010-11, so local residents asked the Board of Aldermen in March whether they could start a community garden on the land that would otherwise just be sitting there.
Other goals for the garden include helping children to eat healthy foods and to learn how fresh fruit and vegetables grow, as part of the Healthy Kids Campaign -- a program started by the Orange County Partnership for Young Children that helps fight childhood obesity.
"It feels more like home when you have your hands in the dirt, especially when you have your hands in the dirt with your neighbors'," McGreger said, clutching red Chinese long beans.
Carrboro used to have some community garden plots along Bolin Creek off Hillsborough Road, where the Fair Oaks subdivision now sits.
On Friday, a few minutes after Ashley left, another man, who had walked four miles to the community garden, introduced himself to McGreger. He had passed by before, he said, and was curious about it.
"It's more than just sharing the garden," she explained to him. "It's about sharing skills, sharing knowledge and sharing the work."
Staff writer Meiling Arounnarath can be reached at (919) 932-2004 or meiling.arounnarath@ newsobserver.com.