CARVER PEACE GARDENS
There is a special garden near downtown Johnson City at the Carver Recreation Center on 322 West Watauga Avenue. Janet “Sam” Jones, Master Gardener, was the initiator of the original Carver Peace Gardens. The Gardens were created in 2006 through a project supported by the Johnson City Parks and Recreation Department, the Carver Recreation Center, and the Northeast Tennessee Master Gardener Association. For a small fee, individuals, families, or groups can rent garden beds to grow flowers or vegetables, working their garden bed to take their harvests for themselves or donating them. East Tennessee State University Quillen Medical Students also care for a bed and for several years have donated their harvests to the city’s One Acre Café. Carver Center Supervisor Herb Greenlee and Master Gardener Nancy Shilling lead the project.
In 2020, Greenlee and Shilling conceived the idea of transitioning the way crops were grown from traditional in-ground to raised-bed gardening. A group of like-minded gardeners with various backgrounds came together to develop a site plan and pull the project together. Once a garden with only six in-ground plots, had grown to 20 gardens by 2020, and now with the conversion to raised beds Carver Peace Gardens have grown to more than seventy, four feet by four feet and four feet by eight feet raised-bed gardens.
Many gardeners rent beds at Carver due to conditions at their homes not being suitable for raising plants. This may be due to poor soil conditions and/or limitations of sun or plot size. Gardeners can learn from others at Carver, and when conditions at their homes change, they are better able to grow gardens at home and teach others. Inexperienced gardeners have an opportunity to learn the best ways to maintain their bed and how to plant seeds, plants, and flowers from a Master Gardener or from other experienced gardeners. Sharing successes are important for the beginner as well as the experienced gardener.
Master Gardeners also are working with Carver Recreation Center to provide gardening education to children during Carver’s Summer Program and Afterschool Program with the goal of teaching children in effective scientific-based gardening techniques to be a lifelong gardener. Children participating in the Carver Peace Gardens have opportunities to plant, care for and harvest their own vegetables. They also observe other gardeners’ plots to learn about plant care, biodiversity, ecosystems, basic gardening skills and the satisfaction of growing your own plants and vegetables.
Gardening is therapeutic and rewarding for kids and adults alike, as this activity provides the freshest, best-tasting vegetables available. Benefits of gardening generally include boosting your mood, immune system, and strength, as well as decreasing stress. The Carver Peace Gardens specifically provides participants social connections and plant growing education.
The gardens can be viewed from the Carver parking lot or the walking path. You can help with this impactful community project by donating gardening materials, supplies and monetary donations which are always are appreciated.
With all this progress Carver Peace Gardens is going to need help! The volunteer team maintains the Carver Peace Gardens. Without the support of the Master Gardeners and others who are interested in gardening, the following activities below could not be accomplished.
- Working in the communal areas whether to maintain the pollinator gardens, help with growing a plot to harvest for donation, or working to maintain the general area.
- Helping with education for new gardeners or continuing education for existing gardeners, either in the form of educational materials or in person training or online training.
- Working on communication for existing gardeners. Create a monthly newsletter or update the Facebook or an Instagram page to let gardeners know what’s going on and perhaps offer educational tips -- like perhaps what should be done and planted and harvested in the garden this month.
- Helping organize workdays, get-togethers for education, and/or just socializing events.
- Writing grant proposals for funding to enable ongoing improvements.
- Teaching, assisting with the children’s events, developing portions of the Children’s After School and Summer program are just a few of the opportunities associated with this activity
- … Or just having your own plot to grow vegetables and flowers for you or your own family!
Currently, the Master Gardeners meet on Tuesday mornings and additional workdays, or hours may be available.
Contact Nancy Shilling, Master Gardener Project Leader, at 423-833-1420 to get involved.
Call now to join the team!