An idea that started as a local community project has blossomed into a townwide initiative, as Cornelius seeks groups and individuals to sponsor community gardens.
The town has identified 12 park properties in Cornelius where a garden can be established based upon sufficient open space, parking and the availability of water. Applications are being accepted through Dec. 1.
“Along with the Smithville Community Coalition, we initiated a community garden within the Smithville community on Catawba Avenue in 2013,” said Troy Fitzsimmons, the town’s parks, arts, recreation and culture director. “In its first year of operation, all plots were sold out, and there was still interest from other town residents to get a plot. In light of this positive response to community gardening, the town decided to expand the program.”
The 11 additional sites selected for the gardens are Glen Oak Green Park, Torrence Chapel Park, the Washam property on Bailey Road, Walter Henderson Park, Jetton Road Neighborhood Park, Robbins Park, Meridian Street, Caldwell Station Creek Greenway off Poole Place Drive, the Antiquity community, the Westmoreland community and Floral Lane.
The original garden in the Smithville section of Cornelius, on Catawba Avenue just east of U.S. 21, was an idea suggested to the town by the coalition, according to its co-chair, Lisa Mayhew-Jones. “We were looking for a way to get our residents out to meet each other while also beautifying our portion of town. The garden was a perfect fit, and the town enthusiastically embraced the idea.”
Mayhew-Jones, 49, is a lifelong Cornelius resident, and the location of the garden was the site of her grandfather James Caldwell’s home for many years.
According to Fitzsimmons, the cost to the town to create some serenity and beauty was quite minimal. “We invested approximately $10,000 towards the garden’s development by providing materials, some labor and equipment to build the garden. From there, community volunteers operate and manage the garden.”
Applications are being accepted from qualified individuals, businesses, homeowners associations, property owner associations and nonprofit organizations. Applicants who are accepted must agree to share use of the land on which they will garden with other Cornelius residents. On it they may grow food, flowers and herbs for noncommercial use. All plots and gardens must remain open to all residents of Cornelius.