Originally published 8/16/2010
I must admit that my visit to the SEEDS and DIG Community Garden in Durham might be one of my favorites. I spent a bit of time with Santos Flores the Garden Coordinator, whose energy is simply overflowing with enthusiasm for his work.
SEEDS was founded in 1994 by Brenda Brodie and Annice Kenan. SEEDS has been renting this property since the inception and the land covers both sides of the road. The garden really started to take off around 2000 when SEEDS was instrumental in the founding of the Durham Farmers Market. http://www.seedsnc.org/index.htm
On one side of the road there is the “DIG” garden where all of the vegetables are grown organically, harvested, and prepared for the Durham Farmers Market by volunteers and students. On the other side of the road by the educational building, there is a garden set up for individual plots that are rented by neighbors.
There are only 25 plots available each year and preference is given to neighbors in need. http://www.seedsnc.org/community_gardening.htm There are herbs and some fruit trees running throughout the garden and those are for everyone to enjoy and use.
For the last several years, SEEDS has been able to offer an after school program for kids in grades 1-5 which has been successful enough for them to begin summer programs as well for the younger students in addition to the DIG program for teenagers.
The education building is simple and there are some pictures of the building before the garden was in full swing on the website under the history section (http://www.seedsnc.org/history.htm). You can see how many improvements have been made to the site over the years. There are different rooms inside set up as classrooms and demonstration areas and everything is painted bright and kept very clean despite the constant use. Volunteers and staff are engaging and there seems to be a lively discussion in every room.
Behind the building there is an area devoted to starting seedlings, composting and a fairly large greenhouse. This garden collects and stores much of the water it uses and you can see the collection points as you walk around the different structures. The gardener in me loves the diversity of these garden areas. There are herbs, cutting flowers, fruits and vegetables and DIG maintains their own bee hives to increase pollination.
There are currently several workshops scheduled for this fall which include growing fruit trees, berries, herbs and fall vegetables. http://www.seedsnc.org/events.htm The group recently engaged the Operation Frontline team to help with cooking classes and they want to expand their classes.
As a mom, what I enjoyed most about this garden was the extensive shaded play area. And as a designer with a passion for restoration, what I loved was the re-use of materials. Everything from bricks and stones to recycled plastic containers and broken garden tools for signs. Nothing is wasted here.
If you want to learn about conservation and teach your kids about recycling, this is the field trip for you. If you have an interest in helping, they can always use volunteers and have a list of 10 ways you can help support their efforts. http://www.seedsnc.org/help.htm