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WHOM TO CONTACT
For more information about the Lakeshore Community Garden, email Andrea Dobbins at firstname.lastname@example.org, call Brenda Jackson at 706-278-8207 or visit Lakeshore Community Garden on Facebook. For more information about Chattanooga community gardens, contact Melanie Mayo at Crabtree Farms of Chattanooga Inc. at 423-493-9155 ext. 10 or email@example.com.
DALTON, Ga. - With hoes and shovels in gloved hands, gardeners attacked the tangled mass of weeds that flourished over winter in Lakeshore Community Garden, freeing bunches of rosemary, oregano and lavender in plots.
About a dozen people gathered recently for the first community work day to prepare more than 70 plots, 5 feet by 16 feet, for spring planting at Lakeshore Park.
Now in its third year, the garden has plots rented to about 30 households, and 20 plots are available. Plots can be rented for $20, and a household can rent up to four plots.
"It is a great opportunity to learn from each other and get to know fellow community members," said Andrea Dobbins, one of the garden's organizers. "I grew up in Dalton and met a lot of people in the area that I wouldn't have met otherwise."
The garden helps people learn about different varieties of vegetables, decreases energy intake by growing food locally and uses a plot of land in the park that was vacant.
The entire group tends three gleaner's plots near the front of the garden that provide vegetables for anyone who stops by. Any leftovers are donated to local soup kitchens.
Michele Corbin, another garden organizer, said the past three years have been a learning process.
This year, the Whitfield County Extension Office will continue to lead occasional classes on gardening topics, but the classes will be held indoors at the recreation office. The group also will hold fewer organized events, Corbin said.
"It seems most gardeners prefer to come and take care of their gardens instead of being involved in events," Corbin said.
Melanie Mayo is spokeswoman for Crabtree Farms, which supports community gardens in the Chattanooga area. She said there is growing interest in starting gardens.
Chattanooga has about 18 active community gardens, Mayo said. At a recent informational meeting, seven new groups said they were interested in starting gardens, she said.
As the Lakeshore gardeners gathered in Dalton, members who had not seen each other over the winter exchanged updates and showed new members around.
Lorraine Hambrock, a member since the beginning, piled weeds in a bucket and hauled them to a nearby dumping spot.
Hambrock, who described herself as a town girl, said she is learning by working with master gardeners. Her 4-year-old daughter and foster children love to come to the garden, she said.
"I want my children to learn about gardening and be hands-on," Hambrock said. "I want them to know where food comes from - not just what they see in the supermarket. They love digging in the dirt."