Minister of Public Works Community Gardens Update
Minister of Public Works provided an update on 4 November on Community Gardens
To “Promote and develop community gardens that can assist in meeting the needs of the less fortunate in our community.”
An excerpt from the 2017 Progressive Labour Party Election Platform regarding community gardens.
I am joined today by Ms. Jameka Smith (Acting Park Planner) and Mr. Stephen Furbert (Senior Superintendent) at what is the newest community Garden - Avocado Lodge Park Community Garden.
Many will be familiar with the longest established and most well-known Crow Lane Community Garden. This garden, established in 1984, continues to flourish to this day and is the perfect example of a project leading to wider Community collaboration that goes well beyond gardening.
Crow Lane has been led by Dr. Gloria & Mr. Rawle Frederick from the very beginning in 1984, an incredible 36 -year journey that clearly demonstrates their passion for gardening. They have also freely shared their knowledge with all those who have sought advice. And so again, I would like to publically thank the Frederick’s for their many years of commitment and dedication to this magnificent project.
Like the Frederick’s, Government is fully committed to doing its part to aid in boosting the growth of the agriculture industry. In July, I shared information on community gardens in Bermuda and the plan to establish one in every Parish.
In February, we established a community garden at Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Park that has proven very successful and well received by the Southampton community. Named ‘Serenity Garden’, it is managed by the husband & wife team of Mr. Dave and Mrs. Jocille Blakeney, who were unrelenting in pushing for it to happen, and navigated the various Government Departments. To date, all the plots have been assigned and plot owners continue to reap the benefits of growing their own produce. I’d like to thank the Blakeney’s again for their commitment to this effort.
I also want to remind everyone that very little experience is required, all that is needed is a love for our community and a desire to feed oneself. It’s also clear that each garden must have a leader - ideally from the neighbourhood - who is passionate about gardening who will be the driving force to making it a success.
I am now pleased to announce that another site has been launched - the TN Tatem Community Partners Garden is complete and ready for use. It is led by boxer Nikki Bascome with assistance from the Blakeney’s and support from other community partners. Anyone interested in a plot can go to T. N. Tatem and make the arrangements directly with Nikki.
The Parks Department recently completed this Community Garden, located here at the top of Corkscrew Hill. This site is now available and offers ten 15 by 12-foot plots. We are now seeking a community garden leader for this garden and others as they become active.
If there are persons interested and willing to lead any of these sites, please come forward and volunteer so they can become operative in short order. As previously stated, these types of projects are successful when led by persons with a passion for gardening. Please contact Jameka Smith Acting Park Planner at the Department of Parks to express your interest.
Parks is now clearing and prepping a community garden in Southlands Park with the anticipated completion date by year end.
There are also several new sites on the horizon as we identify areas in St. David’s and St. Georges as we work to achieve our goal of a community garden in every parish.
To that end, I must give special thanks to Ms. Jameka Smith and Mr. Stephen Furbert for their continued assistance in getting the gardens started.
Separately, it must be said that not much land is required to create your own backyard garden. We know this from the number of requests we’ve had for mulch from Marsh Folly post Covid lock down. So much so, that at times we have delivered truckloads of mulch to Serenity, Tatem, and several other community collection neighbourhood sites such as Purvis Primary, Government Gate, Devonshire Community Garden, and Death Valley Field.
To support home gardeners, we will deliver to other parts of the island as well. Members of the public need only speak to their Member of Parliament, and he or she will make the necessary arrangements for mulch to be delivered to a community drop location in your neighborhood. Anyone can help themselves to the mulch, or if they choose – they can collect it from Marsh Folly – 24 hours a day – follow the signs – it is literally at the entrance to Marsh Folly - and it’s free.
Lastly, I would also like to invite those private landowners who have unused plots of land that may be suitable for a community garden to consider creating one. Similar to the one organized by MP Michael Weeks in Friswell’s Hill. Again, the Department of Parks will be more than willing to lend a hand in getting it organized.
I live near Lighthouse Hill and it is always a pleasure to see how that project developed from an over grown, weed infested piece of land to the spectacular garden it is today. I also note the benefit to the community, of having neighbours interacting and working positively together.