Right now, they’re a collection of wooden rectangles, but soon they will hold vegetable plants and their produce, an opportunity open to anyone who wants to be a gardener.
The 34th Street Wholistic Gardens & Education Center is coming together at the corner at 34th Street and Jeffrey Circle in Gulfport, said James Franklin, executive director of the nonprofit. It’s the first leg of a much larger plan for the 40-acre space that now belongs to the city.
Anyone interested can rent one of the 4-foot-by-12-foot raised beds for $25 per growing season, Franklin said.
“We’re looking at the immediate community but also groups or corporate groups with employees who would like to volunteer their time,” he said. The Gardens will supply the soil and instructions as well as a garden compliance form so participants can learn the guidelines for planting and growing.
When their plants start producing, gardeners will be able to sell their produce at the marketplace across Jeffrey Circle, which is also part of the city-owned property.
“It will be an opportunity to add a little bit of income,” Franklin said. “We’re also going to bring in those with organic produce and free-range meats and eggs.”
In addition to the Gardens, long-range plans for the property call for a pavilion for cooking demonstrations and discussions from doctors who practice holistic medicine, he said.
“We’re also going to have a walking trail here, and a dog park. But the big thing that seemed to grab people’s attention is kayaking. We have direct access to Brickyard Bayou, so we’re planning a kayak launch,” he said.
Mississippi Power employees, through the power company’s Community Connection program, recently built the raised-bed frames, and volunteers connected to Job Corps helped.
“By noon that day, they had over 100 beds built,” Franklin said.
More help has come from businesses that are donating used coffee grounds and fruit and vegetable peelings for the Garden’s compost heap.
“We also saved about 200 cubic yards of mulch from going to the landfill,” Franklin said.
Some beds were built to accommodate trellis gardens, and Franklin welcomes anyone with experience in trellis gardening to contact him. Two of the beds were built in a horseshoe design to accommodate gardeners in wheelchairs or who otherwise would have difficulty standing for long periods.
To learn more about the Gardens and to rent a plot, contact Franklin at 228-547-3887.