GARNER — firstname.lastname@example.org
On Saturday morning, Alice Hinman had about a half dozen kids planting marigolds, peppers and herbs in four raised beds outside a Garner housing development.
Were going to plant this tomato, Hinman, 41, told the children.
Thats a tomato? asked Quamel Brailsford, 7, eyeing the spindly green plant devoid of any red fruit.
Hinman assured Quamel that the plant will grow tomatoes. But he questioned her again: Thats real food?
This rising second-grader is exactly who Hinman was trying to reach on this Saturday with her Wake the Farm project. The Raleigh nonprofit hopes one day to have a series of small-scale agriculture projects on underused land throughout the county.
Its first project is this raised-bed garden for the children at the Delta Street low-income housing community run by the Housing Authority of Wake County. Organizers believe it may be the first urban farming collaboration with a housing authority in North or South Carolina.
Hinman, a landscape architect student at N.C. State University, and Raleigh architect Craig Dean started the group earlier this year. Hinman had been toying with farming projects in Southeast Raleigh.
Dean, a board member for the Wake County Housing Finance Corporation, a nonprofit that supports the housing authority, contacted Hinman after learning there was some land available for a community garden at the Garner complex.
The pair were inspired by hearing renowned urban farmer Will Allen speak earlier this year at Duke University. Allen, a former professional basketball player and recipient of a McArthur Foundation genius grant, runs Growing Power, an urban farming center in Milwaukee, Wis.
Wake the Farm became a project of the Wake County Housing Finance Corporation, which provided $10,000 to the enterprise. The group raised another $1,400 with its Cucurucu Festival featuring live bands and local food in late April.
Hinman and Dean -- with the neighbors help -- are planning to grow vegetables on almost an acre of land within the about 20-unit community. Hinman explained that they missed planting crops this spring but hope to plant collards, onions and beets in early August and September.
In the meantime, they decided to create a small raised-bed garden to engage the 30 or so children in the neighborhood. About a half dozen showed up Saturday to help shovel dirt, eat watermelon and canary melon and plant oregano and cucumbers.
Dean, Hinman and the other adults tried to impart some knowledge as the children enjoyed playing in the dirt: What is compost? Where does water come from? How to save seeds?
Laula Allen, president of the Delta Street residents council, was out there Saturday helping the children plant vegetables. Allen, 69, who has lived in the neighborhood for 14 years, loved the idea of the community garden and hoped it would inspire the children.
A lot of children dont eat vegetables, she said. They are going to start eating vegetables because of this.