People Who Care: How does your garden grow?
Kim Lemons has a love of fruits and vegetables that goes deeper than her namesake. A teacher for 30 years, she always loved plants and gardening, but it wasn’t until retirement she decided to learn more and enrolled in a Master Gardener class.
While taking the course, which gives participants extensive training in gardening and horticulture, students were required to find volunteer opportunities in their communities – and that’s when a fellow classmate told her about Monarch.
A short time later, she met Bunny Schoolcraft, site manager at Monarch’s Vocational Opportunities in the Community (VOC), and began partnering with the program in 2013 to create the community garden in Asheboro. The garden consists of 19 raised beds located at the East Side Homes, a low-income apartment complex for senior adults.
Trees NC, a grassroots organization emphasizing ecological stewardship and community collaboration, provided the mulch and seeds for the garden, while Monarch and Lemons provided the manpower.
“The garden is a wonderful service activity for the VOC participants,” Lemons said. “It takes teamwork, cooperation, commitment and patience to grow 19 raised beds.”
She spent last year with VOC participants teaching them how to grow those beds, and when the spring rolled around again Lemons brought along Karen Clodfelter, also a master gardener, to help VOC get the garden up and running again.
The two women, along with VOC participants, immediately got to work clearing out the old beds and spreading sheet mulching.
After the mulch was laid down and the seeds planted, Lemons and Clodfelter took VOC participants out each week to pull weeds, water and wait for the seeds to grow. The garden has produced tomatoes, squash, corn, okra, zucchini and lots of flowers like zinnias, marigolds, hibiscus and herbs growing.
“I specifically remember the day we pulled out the last of the early spring weeds and mulched the area around the beds,” Lemons said. “Several people worked to lay out sheets of newspaper over the weedy area, another person was in charge of the water hose, some worked to shovel mulch into wheel barrows and others moved the wheel barrows of mulch to the beds. Everyone was working, engaged, and learning; it doesn't get any better than that.”