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How Does Your Community Garden Grow?

From Smoke Rise and Mainstreet to the City of Stone Mountain, community gardens give people a place to plant some seeds - and learn more about working the land.

Community gardens have blossomed around the Atlanta area within the past couple of years.  

In Stone Mountain alone there are at least five.

They're inspiring kids and adults alike to learn more about everything from how to tend to their growing vegetables and fruits, to conservation and organic practices.

"It's really popular right now," said Smoke Rise Community Garden chair Doug Reynics, owner of Douglas Fir Plants. "People want to control what they're growing and what goes into their bodies."

With the rise of pink slime, antibiotics and arsenic in our purchased foods, it is a logical progression in how we get our meals.  

These gardens are also growing a sense of community wherever they are planted.  When you become involved in a community garden, you are leaving a legacy.  

If you're interested in learning more about community gardens in the Stone Mountain-Redan area, here's some information to help you get started:

1. 's Community Garden

Where: 5587 Redan Rd Stone Mountain

If you'd like a plot: Contact crossroadspc@bellsouth.net

2. Mainstreet Community Garden (“MCSA Garden of Eatin")

Where: neighborhood, unincorporated Stone Mountain

Plots available: 12 (out of 24 total, with plans for future expansion as the need arises)

Cost per year: $50.

What's growing: Vegetables, flowers, and herbs. 

If you'd like a plot: Contact the Mainstreet administrative offices Tuesdays through Friday from 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. at (770) 469-7238.  Pictures can be viewed by visiting their website.

Additional information: Nadine Rivers-Johnson, on-site property manager at Mainstreet Community Services Association, Inc., said gardeners will get start-up seeds; the plot owners, however, have the responsibility of getting organic materials to fill their raised bed. She said rain barrels and water sources are available at the community garden site.

Two plots are dedicated to students and Girl Scout troop members, Johnson said. Plot owners are encouraged to donate a minimum of 10 percent of their garden yields to the Atlanta Food Bank, which generously donated a variety of seeds, she said.

3. Redan Nature Preserve Community Garden

Where: , 5354 Redan Rd.

Plots available: None. Check back in the fall.

Cost per year: $30

What's growing: A variety of vegetables and fruits.

Additional information: The community garden is on a 9.2 acre DeKalb County-owned property that includes a 120-year-old historic farmhouse, a Certified Wildlife Habitat, a log cabin, several hens, and more.

If you'd like a plot: Contact the nature preserve's volunteer director Calvin Sims at cesims@bellsouth.net

4. Smoke Rise Community Garden

Where:  4807 Hugh Howell Rd.

Plots available: 55 total, 24 available

Cost per year:  $60 per year.  They are offering a special for $125 in which the members will do all the work for you, including putting the frame together, adding soil and fertilizer mixture.  Just show up and plant. 

If you'd like a plot:  Contact Doug at dfir@me.com

Additional information:  This is the newest addition to the gardens in town. They have four dedicated food pantry plots, which will be donated to the FDA Ecumenical Food Pantry.  Organic. For more information, visit their website.   

5. Stone Mountain Community Garden

Where: Off Gordon Street, in VFW Park, behind Stone Mountain Post Office.

Plots available: Raised bed boxes are built as needed (there is plenty of room to grow, said Averil Bonsall, Master Gardener Coordinator with DeKalb County Extension Service). There are 40 individual 4-by-12 foot plots in use, and a 3,000 square foot Food Pantry Garden.

Cost per year: $25 per individual plot.

What's growing: Currently, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, squash and zucchini, cucumbers, watermelon, sweet potatoes, herbs, flowering plants and more. In late spring, potatoes, peas, lettuce, spinach, onions, carrots, and radishes; over the winter, cabbages and collards

If you'd like a plot: Contact Averil Bonsall at ambonsall@bellsouth.net.

Additional information: Bonsall said some gardeners use their own plot, some do not have a plot but volunteer in the Pantry Garden, and "many of us do both!"                                       

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