While Oxford restaurants support local farmers by using their produce, initiatives to “Go Green” or eat healthy are also sprouting around town. For some locals, a love for fresh food, the community and green initiatives all come together at the Oxford Community Garden.
Sunny Young, founder and event coordinator of Good Food for Oxford Schools, is also a board member-at-large for the Oxford Community Garden. When Young arrived in Oxford after her move from Colorado, she saw the community garden as a partner in her passion to get more kids to eat more healthy foods.
“I use the community garden as a resource, because we’re gardening at all the schools but I’m not like a master gardener. That’s what I feel like is really nice about being a part of the community garden,” Young said. “There are so many people there that any time you go out there you’re bound to run into someone that can help answer questions about what’s eating your plants and that sort of thing.”
Located just behind the Oxford University Transit bus depot and next to the Oxford Skate Park, the Oxford Community Garden isn’t just a welcome spot for those with a little dirt already under their nails. Caitlin Keith, a journalism major at The University of Mississippi and Young’s friend, joined the community garden last year.
“[Sunny] asked if I’d like to help her with her plot and I thought it sounded like fun!” Keith said. “We started it last summer and we grew a variety of things; kale, lettuce, carrots, nasturtium, and a few other things.”
Through workshops that include learning about beekeeping and more, the garden brings people from all ages together. After learning about the garden from Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, biology professor and president of the community garden group, Donna Levine, adjunct instructor in journalism, got her 12-year-old daughter a plot last summer. Eve Gershon, Levine’s daughter, and her parents cared for the plot where they planted and produced tomatoes and melons.
“We were all so excited when she could actually harvest her produce and we could eat it,” Levine said.
Though the plots fill each year with colorful vegetation like cabbages, beans, berries, flowers and more, the harvest isn’t the only thing plot holders gain. The garden creates a connection between the plot holders as they work to maintain and beautify the land.
“Another great thing about the garden is that we would go to work on, not just Eve’s plot, but also the rest of the garden, weeding, watering, etc,” Levine said. “It was always wonderful to see people getting together to work on plots that would benefit the community.”
“I think as we progress in this country we lose a lot of that ‘get to know your neighbors’ and a community garden really fosters that to get to know your community and enjoy the food together,” Young said. “There’s so much you can learn not just about gardening but about who’s in your community.”
To get involved with the garden, simply read the membership guidelines, fill out and send a membership form to firstname.lastname@example.org, check with Threlkeld for plot availability and pay a small annual fee.
Take a tour of the Oxford Community Garden with Ole Miss journalism student Kristen Wilson, email@example.com.