A tour of an Urb Farm in Jacksonville By Ginny Stibolt
For years I've met up with Victoria Register-Freeman at local garden-orientated events in the area and I'd heard her describe the community garden between her B & B and the St. Johns River, but I hadn't visited until a couple of weeks ago. It was in the middle of the summertime doldrums, but still a lot was growing here.
Victoria tells of the day that a neighbor, who wished to have a garden, said to her, "I wish I had your light." Victoria replied that she could. And that was the beginning of turning an expansive lawn between the house and the river into a community garden. There is still a large lawn area, but it's interrupted by a number of raised beds, garden sculptures, and compost bins encased in twig enclosures.
Victoria Register-Freeman standing on the back porch of her B & B, the House on Cherry St. To her left is a view of the river beyond the gardens.
Below, the compost god looks out for the lettuce seedlings growing in a pot and getting ready for the cool weather.
Victoria stands by her whimsical "Grow" sculpture next to some of the raised beds, which are marked off in one-foot squares, because she uses square foot gardening to save space. It just seems to fit an urban area like this instead of long rows of crops. Another space-saving growing technique is to use those $.99 cloth bags from the grocery store as soft-sided pots. The one shown in this photo sports a mixture of blue sage and white petunias.
Victoria built some raised beds and placed them on the patio table as an experiment in handicapped-accessible gardening. The cucumbers there were doing quite well.
So while there are plenty of vegetables grown here in season, there is still room for some decorative flowers to brighten up the space. To the left are a nice stand of crinum lilies beyond the rosemary bushes. To the right are native blanket flowers, which were covered with pollinators--the butterflies and bees.
Thanks go to Victoria and all the urban farmers. They really do make a difference!
Ginny Stibolt would like to hear from readers who have suggestions and questions. After all, there are more than a few transplanted gardeners Florida trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t in planting zone 8/9. She's wrote, "Sustainable Gardening for Florida," published by University Press of Florida that was released in 2009. Now she's written "Organic Methods for Growing Vegetables in Florida" with Melissa Contreras in Miami. The new book will be released in Feb 2013. You may contact her or read extra details on her articles and other information posted on her website: www.greengardeningmatters.com.