Community Garden Spotlight: Smyrna

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As I turned into North Cooper Lake Park, that word kept resounding in my head.
Whoa – this is a big, spacious park. Whoa – I just found a new picnic spot. Whoa – look at that garden!

Having lived here for almost a year now, I really should know this spot already. But I didn't! When we decided to start a blog series visiting various community gardens in the Atlanta areas, I thought I'd just check and see if one existed in my hometown. And boy – does one ever! Is this Community Garden Smyrna's best kept secret or am I just Smyrna's most clueless resident?

Ann Kirk, Director of Keep Smyrna Beautiful, assures me it's the former. This is only the garden's fifth season. The community garden's construction began in Spring of 2010 and was partially inspired by Kirk's own daughter, who lived across the street from a big community garden in Washington, D.C. "We realized that Smyrna has a lot of land and a lot of trees – but that means a lot of shade. Plus the newer developments have smaller lots and more restrictive covenants."

When you add in the "slow food" movement where folks are more interested in growing their own food and less interested in contracting things like Listeria from cantalope from store-bought produce…you have a community extremely hungry for a community garden. 

"We also wanted to make Smyrna even more attractive to young families, to showcase how progressive Smyrna really is. We were lucky to have the full support of the parks director. In addition to the Parks Director, we had the support of the Mayor and Council, which was absolutely essential, and the enthusiastic backing of our Community Relations Director, Jennifer Bennett. Our timing was perfect, too!  Sean Murphy, a Smyrna resident and Certified Landscape Architect, had just completed work with Suwanee on their Community Garden and was eager to help us build a garden here. He served on our Steering Committee and not only drew and donated the professional plans and specifications for the garden, but also helped us a great deal by sharing the process that Suwanee used, the rules and documents that they developed, and a list of other local gardens to contact.  He also put in a whole lot of sweat equity! " And so a Community Garden was born.
"Building the garden was a community effort," says Kirk.

"We had a strong group of volunteers from IBM and a team of carpenters who brought their own knowledge." This new garden has even grown a new educational series, with Master Gardeners teaching gardening classes in Brawner Hall. 

Lucky for Smyrna residents, plots are still available. At an extremely affordable cost! Kirk reports, "We have 29 plots available in every size. Our 5'x6' plots are $40 per year including water. That's roughly $1.25 a sq ft, which is a number we arrived at by calling the Oakhurst community garden. So it's competitively priced. The 5'x8' plots are $50, the 5'x10' ones are $63 and the 5' x 12' plots are $75 a year. 

So join your neighbors! Help them grow this beautiful bountiful space by visiting The Smyrna City Community Garden page and reserving a plot of your own!

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