The sweet taste of a community garden

July 11, 2009

Eggplant just about ready at De Funiak Springs community garden.
Eggplant just about ready at DeFuniak Springs community garden.

Fruits, vegetables and flowers thrive in DeFuniak Springs garden

The Whitaker family in DeFuniak Springs have been farming and gardening for generations.  Jamie Whitaker, her father, two sisters and brother, not only have a lawn service business, but a successful produce farm for the last 12 years, supplying Walton County restaurants with fresh vegetables.

Inspired to create a community garden after being approached by several of their customers wanting to learn gardening, the Whitakers worked with the Boys and Girls Club on a small community garden in 2008, then took it to the next level this spring.

Flowers border the community garden in De Funiak Springs.
Flowers border the community garden in DeFuniak Springs.

After approaching the City of DeFuniak Spring’s City Manager, the family got approval to use the City property adjacent to the water tower. The city also agreed to donate the water for the garden.

Next step was starting a small non-profit group. With the assistance of Kendra Zamojski, at the Walton County Extension Service, they then proceeded on to develop the bylaws for the group.

Relying mostly on donations, the only major expense the group has had to face is the cost of liability insurance. The Whitakers hope to offset that expense with donations and membership, which is $10/yr.

The garden project hopes to be successful year-round, reaping a variety of produce. So far this summer, the garden has produced greens, eggplant, potatoes, onions, squash, corn, melons, tomatoes and flowers.

Staying mostly organic, and starting from donated seeds, they use fertilizer such as cottonseed meal for nitrogen. The members reap the fruits of the garden, with the rest going to Walton Cares, a local charity.

For more information you can contact Kendra Zamojski, at the Walton County Extension Service at 850-892-8172 or Jamie Whitaker at 850-892-9082

For more information about the group, you can go to: http://dfscommunitygarden.blogspot.com/

The Walton County Tourist Development Council will be hosting an environmental forum on November 5 focusing on developing community gardens. The forum will be held at the E. O. Wilson Biophilia Center in Freeport. For more information you can contact Vicki Kitahara at 850-267-1621 ext. 121 or email: vkitahara@beachesofsouthwalton.com

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