Welcome to the home of the Sanford Community Garden! Thank you for your interest and we hope that you discover what you are seeking here with us. What does Sanford Community Garden mean to us?
SANFORD We are committed to our beautiful town and it’s diverse, talented, and welcoming residents. We love living here and want this garden to continue to be a thriving place that is still loved many years from now.
COMMUNITY We believe in the power in creating a “third place” that is neither work nor home, where it is peaceful and beautiful and fosters friendships in a very unique way. There is a reason why community gardens and urban farms are sweeping the nation. Not only do they replenish where there are food deserts, but they foster tighter knit communities and enrich lives.
GARDEN We are committed to helping children of all ages fall in love with where their food comes from, and enjoy the independence that comes from knowing how to grow it themselves in a way that works with Mother Nature and not against her. Today, children spend only half as much time outdoors as their parents did. The garden is a magical place that can spark imagination and wonder about the natural world, instill compassion and reverence for the planet and all its critters in a way that nothing else can. We are so proud to provide the space to make that happen for children of all ages.
Our Mission Statement
The Sanford Community Garden is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which serves our community by providing an opportunity for Sanford residents of all ages and abilities to learn how to grow their own organic fruits and vegetables. The garden provides a place for residents to enjoy the benefits of communing with their neighbors in a fun, creative way and to learn from each other and our programs. The garden aims to cultivate a community of individuals committed to sustainable land use in an urban setting who also have fun while learning how to grow, eat and prepare delicious healthy food while making new friends. This is a community-led organization working in conjunction with the City of Sanford.
Gardening in Florida
Since 2010, when our garden was born from an idea sent to our city leaders, we have been planting seeds of healthy food, friendship and reverence for the mysterious and tenacious qualities of mother nature here at the garden. That means that we grow patience and humility because as any gardener knows, one fails a lot before one succeeds when toiling with seeds! I have yet to meet a gardener who believes they have mastered their gardening talents. Florida is a wonderful place to garden because we have a full year of sunshine, but it also means that we don’t have the frost that kills the critters that love to eat our crops. We also have sandy soil, extensive heat and torrential rains in the summer with a hurricane or two thrown in there for fun. But when you join this group of gardeners here, you join a community that shares the trials and triumphs together as well as a lot of wisdom.
Setting Gardeners Up for Success
Due to these challenges, we are committed to setting our gardeners up for success. In December 2017, the garden was completely re-built and expanded and created in a manner setting our gardeners up for success. We have 47 new beds which are twice the size as before and are made of concrete block instead of the wood, which brought us ants, rot and needed constant replacement. We have all new weed cloth between beds to keep weeds under control. Each bed is being filled with high quality organic soil, and a new fence and doors which will help keep critters from stealing our edibles. We also have joined forces with the local Extension Office and have created a coaching program, where each gardener will have a Master Gardener Coach to assist them. We also created a garden buddy system where each gardener will also have a group of fellow gardeners to hopefully share watering responsibilities on the occasion it is needed.
The Re Build
The garden was rebuilt over a couple months and is finally set to re-open Feb 3 rd , 2018. The rebuild was necessary due to the fence and many of the beds all needing to be replaced, the soil was spent, and much of the weed cloth needed to be replaced. We also wanted to expand to create space for our educational events which are open to the public (see Events) and to just have a space for the gardeners to commune. We had one picnic table for 40 gardeners. So, Lowes offered to make us their Heroes’ Project for 2017 and donated a lot of critical materials for our re-build as well as one day of labor from their volunteers at their Sanford Store. This re-build could not have happened without them and we are forever grateful to them. The City Of Sanford also helped us in prepping the space and to Robert Beall (Parks and Grounds Operation Manager) for also volunteering for the day of the rebuild. We had over 1,500 blocks to place, all of the posts and fence to go up too. The Boy Scouts of Longwood 849, led by Adam Mahl provided all of the planning, labor, equipment and supplies for all of the new irrigation for the garden. Of course, there are many more to thank, and lots of volunteers helped from many different places including troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol. The rebuild allowed us to go from having 1792 square feet to 11550 square feet. Within the space we now have an area of 30×82 square feet dedicated specifically to education and “Grow for Good”. The Sanford Mayor’s Youth Council and the garden are discussing potential plans to grow in that area and donate it to local food banks. This will allow us to not only meet our goals in education but the needs of the community while potentially providing us with the support we need to sustain the garden in the future.
What Makes Us Unique
We have a bat house to control the mosquito population. We dedicated a plot to be used as an educational Herbal Garden along with an herbalist who will teach from it. We have beds full of pollinator attracting milkweed and flowers to improve crops and provide a safe haven for the pollinators. The newly added space to one day create an outdoor classroom to be used for everything from nature themed events and classes such as harvest to table experiences. A fantastic location that can’t be beat by resting in the north end of a beautiful 12-acre green space, conveniently placed on US 17-92. A unique and diverse group of gardeners who have a lot of wisdom to share. We also host a very fun monthly Second Saturday morning garden work day that usually accompanies a local guest speaker which is almost always open to the community. (see Events) We also have a raised bed right by the main entrance designed for those with physical challenges. Please email us if you are interested in this. We are the only garden in the county that I know of that has this available.
How to Get Involved
Annual Membership is $50 and begins in February 2018. With that you get the use of all garden materials, tools and educational opportunities and events. If you are not up for the commitment of renting your own 4×16 space for a year, you can watch our Events tab and come enjoy the events we offer. If you want to contribute to the garden via your talents or funds, please with us via the website for more information, or email us at SanfordCommunityGarden@gmail.com Be sure and follow us on our Facebook Page too for current up to date information and tips. And lastly, this past year we officially adopted the greenspace adjacent to us, locally considered as the 18th Street Park, and coordinate quarterly clean-ups, which are open to the community as well. These events were suspended due to the post hurricane debris being processed in the park, and now are delayed due to the Elm Street Project, so will resume once these are complete and the park is clear of equipment.
So as you can see we are very excited you are here and hope you can become a part of our group of gardeners where I promise you will have fun while learning how to grow your own organic herbs and vegetables. I bet you will also make a new friend or two. I certainly have. We are all about growing a better community, one gardener at a time.
Sheila DiPace Garden President