Four years ago, a group of local residents had a vision to create a shared space where people could grow their own vegetables, herbs and spices, and children could learn about produce.
Their vision became the Morrisville Community Garden.
The garden, now in its third year, recently won a one-time $3,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield NC grant that is part of the Nourishing North Carolina program.
Nourishing North Carolina is a three-year partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield and the North Carolina Recreation & Park Association to create or enhance community gardens throughout the state.
Two-thirds of adults in North Carolina are obese or overweight. With that in mind, the groups decided to work together to improve access to healthy foods.
By supporting or creating community gardens, the Nourishing North Carolina program aims to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables by at least two servings a day for 1,300 people. The program’s goal is to support food pantries and homeless shelters with at least 20,000 pounds of donated fruits and vegetables statewide.
In its first year, the program donated more than two tons of produce to food shelters and rescue organizations across the state.
One garden per county was selected for the program. The Morrisville Community Garden is representing Wake County.
The Morrisville garden will use the money to buy seeds, soil, compost and fencing and to help with insurance costs, said Karsten Baumann, vice president of the garden.
About 15 families are members of the garden, Baumann said, and the group is hoping its outreach efforts at the Western Wake Farmers’ Market will lure more members.
“I do have a backyard and I haven’t had time to work on it,” Baumann said. “I figured a lot of people were like me and would like to get instructions or ideas and learn – learn about gardening and then apply (it) to your garden.
“One of the main objectives was to involve schools and kids. Kids have no relationship to food anymore. They don’t know where foods come from. We think that when kids get physically involved with growing the food, they’ll eat it also.”
Membership to the garden costs $80 a year and covers the whole family. The garden hosts work days every Saturday, when members and the public can work with a master gardener.
Last year, the garden sprouted 536 pounds of produce, 50 pounds of which was donated to local food banks. Vegetables at the garden include tomatoes, squash, okra, peppers, eggplant and beans.
“We have a fairly good yield,” Baumann said. “We have members from India and China. They grow the vegetables they would have in their culture. Usually what we yield is larger than what they can consume.”