Siler City downtown garden nurtures local youth and families

Jul. 18, 2013 @ 04:58 AM

Two local programs have joined forces to plant a community vegetable garden intended to nourish young people, families and downtown Siler City.

Siler City’s NC STEP Bridges-and-Seeds Micro-Finance Garden is collaborating on the project with Chatham County Together/Communities in Schools Chatham County, a nonprofit providing mentoring and other services to at-risk youth and families.

With use of donated building materials, tools, compost, soil, transplants and seeds, the project has involved community volunteers and youth in building and planting raised vegetable beds near the heart of downtown. The garden is located on part of the property of Against His Will Gallery on East Second Street.

The initial garden has been established as an outdoor classroom and work site for youth engaged in community service and self-reliance skills training. Under the supervision of a part-time CCT/CIS CC staff person, program youth will maintain and harvest fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. The program will provide fresh food to low-income families.

“This is an opportunity for our youth to learn about organic gardening, land stewardship and how to weigh and distribute fresh food to local households,” said Kim Caraganis, executive director of CCT/CIS CC. “We believe the design will also create a pleasant garden space for all to enjoy in downtown Siler City.”

Nita Dukes, project volunteer for NC STEP’s Micro Finance Garden program, said the project also provides “an intercultural, bilingual and inclusive space for Siler City youth to learn how to sustainably grow food, share their own experiences and directly help women and their families.”

Funding support for the undertaking came from The Abundance Foundation in Pittsboro, the N.C. Division of Juvenile Justice, Chatham County Soil and Water Office, and time and materials were donated by Royal Water Resources, PLLC, Backyard Edibles, Belk Building Supply, Brooks Contractor, Mike’s Lawn & Gardening, LLC, Southern States, friends and volunteers.