Though last year's crop of broccoli was good, Renee Goodnight hopes this year she can get a larger variety of vegetables out of her plot in the Kannapolis Community Garden.
Goodnight, the city's community outreach coordinator, tended a plot in the first-ever community garden in Kannapolis last year because she wanted to see how it all came together and to be proactive where she lives.
"Also, I have become very interested in the health benefits of organic food and wanted to grow my own food," Goodnight said. She said it was exciting to grow her own food to eat, and she can't wait to do it again this year.
The city and First Wesleyan Church on Bethpage Road worked together to make the garden available to residents last year and are doing so again this year.
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Plots are available for the second annual community garden, also planted at First Wesleyan. Plots start at $20 for a 10-by-10-foot square and run up to $40 for a 10-by-30 foot section.
Community farmers buy their own seedlings or generally have started them inside their homes from seed. The church provides the water for the garden, but gardeners are responsible for watering and weeding their own plots.
Goodnight said the garden is part of the goals set last year by the city's Environmental Stewardship Commission. Community gardens were one of the commission's three priorities.
The city isn't opposed to hosting more community gardens in the future.
"We would love to see community gardens flourish in Kannapolis for many reasons," Goodnight said. Not only are the gardens good for building community, she said, but fresh, locally grown food is healthier, less expensive and helps to reduce air pollution by eliminating long-distance trucking of produce from other areas.
James Matchette, pastor of First Wesleyan, sits on the Environmental Stewardship Commission this year. He said the garden is "an example that all organizations in Kannapolis can work together to make this community a better place for all."
Matchette calls the community garden a win-win for everyone: for the city because it helps realize a goal of the commission, and especially for community members who may not have the resources for their own gardens.
Matchette divides the plots for rent and collects the fee from residents "in the hopes of keeping people engaged throughout the growing season," Goodnight said. The fee does not offset the cost of water provided for the garden.
While gardeners are responsible for watering their own plants, Goodnight said, she'll likely try to form a watering co-op, as she did last year, in which gardeners rotate watering responsibilities for each other.
Plots are available for rent now. Planting will begin at 6 p.m. April 19 - an evening of planting in the week before Earth Day. Applications are available at the church, 301 Bethpage Road, or online at kfwc.org.