Friday, June 5, 2015

GTCHS Barton Community Garden

This time of year the garden is changing its appearance so very quickly, with every ray of sunlight, every afternoon shower bringing forth more leaves, another vine, flowers and fruit. Our garden is hardly recognizable from the pictures I took of it a month ago, and I expect the next couple of weeks to bring even more changes as the tomatoes finally start ripening and the zucchini producing. I only mention this because today I’m taking you on a tour of a community garden in the Upstate; however, the pictures are from our visit almost a month ago, and so please keep that in mind as we tour the Barton Community Garden.

The Greenville Technical College campus is also home to the Greenville Technical Charter High School. The Barton Community Garden was established there with the mission to “collectively serve the GTC community with vegetables, fruit and flowers. We envision staff, faculty, and students involved in planning, planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, preserving and eating our produce.”

On a sunny spring day the head gardener Jason Schmidt took the time to give the boys a complete tour of the garden. We started with the raised beds, built much higher and larger than usual to prevent leeching from the ground; the college was built on what used to be a landfill. While learning about some of the herbs that had overwintered in the beds, they took turns smelling and tasting each one. It was interesting to see which they recognized, which they eagerly tasted and which earned the funniest faces. Next the boys munched on snap peas while talking about insects.

We keep it super simple with our garden at home, so the boys were interested to see the different equipment utilized in the raised beds, including hoops for transforming the beds into mini greenhouses during the cooler months and irrigation systems. One of the raised beds had been sectioned off in a perfect example of square foot gardening. It turned out we were a day late in our visit, as the seedlings had already been planted by students and volunteers. However, there is always something for little hands to do in a garden…

The compost bin needed to be turned, and the boys were just the crew for the job. The got a close-up look at the black soil on the bottom of the bin as compared to the greens that had most recently been added. The inhabitants of the bin also proved fascinating to the three kids, who were excited to learn Jason had more worms in worm farms inside.

After checking out the worms living in the classroom, taking a look at the fungi being cultivated by the students and learning a bit about worms and what it takes to grow them, it was time to go back outside. With our tour officially over, the boys were off to climb the giant boulders while the adults continued their gardening discussions.

The garden is intended as a teaching garden for Greenville Technical College and GTCHS students. That being said if you are interested in lending a hand (or green thumb!) to the Barton Community Garden, please visit the Greenville Tech website for more information.

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