Harvest of Hope Community Garden
The Kingsport Harvest of Hope Community Garden was founded in 2011 as the first initiative developed by United Way's Safety and Stability Vision Council and the Food Security Initiative. Its initial purpose was to feed and support the homeless in our community and was supported by AARP.
Initially, gardeners were required to be from Kingsport and to donate a part, or all, of the produce they raised. While we still encourage our gardeners to donate surplus produce they grow to local food kitchens like the Kitchen of Hope and the Salvation Army, we have opened up opportunities to any and all gardeners on a first come, first served basis.
When the initial raised beds were built in 2011, there were only a total of 25 beds, and they were quite shallow as seen in the photo below on the left. We now have 91 beds, many as deep as 16 inches as seen in the photo on the right, and we are currently above 90% occupancy level.
Many of the beds were built were built several years ago with surplus lumber donated by builders who were replacing residential decking. These beds are now in need of repair or replacement and donations of lumber are hard to come by. As a result, we are using donated funds to buy new, treated lumber for repairs.
Many of our gardeners live nearby in apartment buildings where they have little, or no, opportunity to raise food where they live. But some come from as far away as Jonesborough.
In addition to the raised beds available at no cost to gardeners, we also have free water and compost (paid for by donations), and free vegetable plants and seeds (thanks to Evergreen of Kingsport, Master Gardeners, and others). We also offer classes in spring, summer, and fall to help gardeners learn best practices from research-based publications offered by Extension Service scientists.
This year, we participated in the “SeedMoney” (https://seedmoney.org/) grant program and raised a few dollars through crowdfunding and received a “merit grant” of $400 as well as a "strong start grant" of $100. We have used the money to buy additional compost, lumber for rebuilding beds, and crushed rock to refresh our walkways that had become overgrown with weeds. These photos the progress we have made:
Northeast Tennessee Master Gardeners have been involved with this project from its very inception. Current Master Gardeners volunteering at HOH include Doug Hilton, Nancy Walker, Liz Blakely, Jacqueline Cox, Carla Rogers, Michelle McClure, Earl Hockin, Mary Ann Lovelace, and Dave Rogers.
We can always use additional help with mowing and weeding, particularly outside the usual vegetable gardening period when our gardeners do not typically maintain the area in and around their beds, as well as hauling and unloading the compost. Also, we could use help planning and executing the gardening classes in the spring, summer, and fall. Please contact Dave Rogers if you are interested in earning some hours at Harvest of Hope Community Garden ( firstname.lastname@example.org ).