Photo by Trevor Hylton, FAMU’s Community Garden
February 28, 2014
By Trevor Hylton
The FAMU Community Garden is the oldest community garden in Tallahassee and one of the oldest in the state. Established over 40 years ago, the garden is located on the southern end of the campus at 2001 W. Orange Avenue. The garden is nestled on three acres of clear fertile land, having 71 plots that are 40 feet long by 40 feet wide. Every year this garden produces in excess of 14 tons of nutritionally rich food, which serve hundreds of families throughout Tallahassee.
Unlike some gardens that are communal, this garden provides each gardener with the freedom to grow the crops that he finds most appealing. Because of this, there is great diversity in the crops grown and the production practices employed to bring these crops to fruition.
This community garden offers unique opportunities for newcomers to Tallahassee to produce traditional crops otherwise unavailable locally. People from diverse backgrounds are often seen working side-by-side on common goals without speaking the same language. The FAMU community garden is a melting pot of members with varied ethnicity; there are gardeners from continents and regions from all over the world, including Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East. Most of the gardeners try to grow crops from their country of origin.
Every year the FAMU community garden donates thousands of pounds of fresh produce to charitable organizations and involves people in processes that provide food security and alleviate hunger. This garden is popular as it currently has 100% occupancy and a waiting list. The garden is also designed and managed for good stewardship of the land. One example of good land stewardship in the design of the garden is the buffer zone left between the garden and the stream that runs beside it. By doing this, the garden helps filter rainwater, which helps to keep our lakes, rivers, and groundwater clean. Other sustainable practices include onsite composting and reduced water usage enforced by restricting irrigation to designated days only.
FAMU’s community garden has been a stalwart in the community and has become the standard bearer for community gardens, with an unmatched endurance, because it is guided by the creeds of the University’s motto…”Excellence with Caring.”
Trevor Hylton is an Extension Agent with Florida A&M University and University of Florida IFAS Extension in Leon and Wakulla Counties. For more information about gardening in our area, visit the UF/ IFAS Leon County Extension website at http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu. For gardening questions, email us at Ask-A-Mastergardener@leoncountyfl.gov