Rental Plots Help Florida County Community Garden Grow


Photo courtesy of marionpolkfoodshare.org

Photo courtesy of marionpolkfoodshare.org

Across the country, community gardens are popping up in major cities and suburban towns alike. Often started on a vacant lot or small piece of land that has sat unused for a number of years, these gardens are usually maintained by volunteers, students, residents or a combination of all three. The gardens often provide fruits and vegetables with are donated to individuals or organizations within a community or sold at a local farmers market.

This spring, one area in South Florida is working to grow their crop of community gardens by offering rental plots. Last week, the Polk Training Center announced that will be offering 33 garden plots near the center’s nurseries for rent during the growing season, according to a story in The Ledger. Plots will rent for $20 or $30 for the season depending on the size and renters will be charged $3 per month for water. Each plot will come with a ground cover and the center will utilize both raised beds and planters in the gardens. One section of the garden will be reserved for organic growing.

Organizers of the project see the garden as a great place for teachers, retirees looking to take up a new hobby, and community members who want eat healthy or save money on their grocery bills. The center believes it will take two years to get the community garden running at full steam. Currently, two of the 33 plots have been reserved and once more people sign on, the center plans on organizing various events and programs such as gardening and cooking classes and garden-inspired potluck dinners.

For the time being, the Polk Training Center will manage the garden but hopes to turn it over to a community management team if it takes off. In addition to rental plots and access to water, the center is also providing some basic tools for public use and gardening advice for those who need it. To help make sure the garden is built on a solid foundation, the center is also seeking a partnership with Bok Tower Gardens who is working with the University of Florida’ Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension to “support school and community gardens in Polk and 10 other counties” in Florida.