Plants — lots of plants — brighten the roadside along Arnold Mill Road, just east of its intersection with Neese Road in Woodstock. Those plants, both vegetables and pollinating plants, make up the Woodstock Community Garden which is thriving in a new location.
After moving to its current location on Arnold Mill Road from the old site at Chattahoochee Tech, gardeners and city staff said the garden has seen a successful first full year at the location.
“We moved here in the spring of 2019,” Jamey Snyder with the City of Woodstock said. “We spent most of the first year here creating the infrastructure.”
Gardener Diane Geeslin added, “The city did wonders in getting this site prepared. There was a lot of bamboo on the property to be cleared. It took a lot of work, but the gardeners are very pleased here.”
Currently, Snyder said the community garden has 300 square feet of space for a pollinator garden and 3,000 square feet for vegetable growth, with each gardener working in the community garden having a 10 foot by 10 foot plot to grow their plants in. At the same time, the property as a whole has three acres of usable land in its current state, meaning the garden has plenty of space to expand moving forward. According to information gathered by Geeslin, having pollinator plants (zinnias, sunflowers, mums, parsley and fennel, among others) in the community garden not only adds that much more color and vibrancy to the site, but also plays an important role in helping other plants grow and develop.
“Bees are the most important pollinators, but there are over 100,000 invertebrates included in that category that act as pollinators. They are butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles, bats, birds, reptiles and amphibians,” Geeslin’s informational packet said. “Honey bees contribute $20 billion to the value of the U.S. crop production. Pollinators are necessary for 75 percent of the food crop. They fertilize up to 90 percent of the world’s 107 most important food crops.”
As the summer growing season is winding down, Snyder and Geeslin said nearly all of the summer crops that were planted this spring, including okra, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and cucumbers, have been harvested. While some of the gardeners are allowing their plots to rest during the winter months in preparation for planting next spring, there are those who are planting a variety of winter crops, such as carrots, spinach, turnips, collards, kale and peas.
Since the novel coronavirus pandemic began to heavily affect Cherokee County, Snyder and Geeslin said there has been a great deal of interest in gardening, with Geeslin saying she saw people flocking to local home improvement and gardening stores for the supplies needed to get their own gardens started, while Snyder added it has been virtually impossible to find pickling jars in the past few months.
“Coming into this gardening season, people were going on a wait list for plots in the community garden,” he added. “The number of people asking jumped heavily after the pandemic began.”
Geeslin said, “People are really getting interested in this.”
Moving forward into future gardening seasons, Geeslin said some bluebird boxes would be installed at the garden in the spring. Snyder said plans were in the works for two beehives to be established, as well as various fruit trees, growing figs, apples and blueberries. A special needs gardening area is also in the process of being set up, allowing gardeners who may be in a wheelchair or have other special needs enjoy their hobby at the community garden.
“People are always coming in, asking about plots. It’s been a lot of fun,” Geeslin said.
Snyder added, “For the city, this was a successful first year here. This may be a springboard to future projects. Gardening is an easy way to go and be outdoors.”