DELTONA, FL – 27 Mar, 2017 – Jim Pescha and his wife first approached the City with the idea for a community garden about two years ago at a City Visioning Workshop. They thought a community garden would be a good idea, especially one that would be located at a community center where seniors congregate. Their thought is although they are seniors, they do not consider themselves to be elderly… and working with a community garden would be good physical and mental therapy for participants. As a side note – the Peschas have always grown their own produce, as this has been a tradition with their family.
They kept up with this idea for a garden with the City. In late 2016 the Peschas met with Deltona’s Mayor and pitched the garden idea. After a second meeting, the Mayor encouraged the Peschas to continue with their idea. They looked at several private and City locations, and visited Vann Park as one of the last sites. The overall facility had the structures that are the best suited for a community garden—open area for gardens, water, storage space, close to parking, in a location that can be secured behind a fence.
The Peschas spoke with the Parks Dept. about using Vann Park for a community garden location and the staff liked the proposal. The Parks Director said he would approach the Commission with the proposal, and in January, the Commission agreed to let the Peschas create the community gardens. At that meeting, Jim Pescha promised the Commission the community gardens would be open by the spring season. The next step was to get the community involved in the community gardens… and the Peschas held their first volunteer meeting. They soon had 6 volunteers who contributed a great deal by helping get donations and sponsors.
Deltona firefighters helped with the building of the gardens by lending their manpower for a great deal of the heavy work. Local gardening supply stores provided gardening materials and valuable word of mouth by discussing the community gardens with store customers. The Peschas were approached by “Welcoming Hearts”, an organization that works with special needs residents providing care and support. They both understood the concept of the community gardens as being beneficial for those special needs clients, providing physical activity and an ongoing interest in the garden’s progress.
The community gardens have a total of 18 beds: 12 are 4’x 8’ on-ground raised beds. 3 are standing beds that also function as elevated special needs beds that are 4’x 4’ and 30” high. The other 3 are wheelchair beds that can also be designated for special needs children, and are 2’x 8’ and are 24” high. By being 2 feet or 24 inches wide, those with a limited reach can access both sides of these planting beds. There is room for another 40 to 50 garden beds, if the need is there due to demand.
Each garden bed can be leased for $35/year… starting in the Spring season through the Winter season. And the fee includes instructional classes where participants can learn about basic Florida gardening guidelines at these educational seminars… such as factoring for three planting seasons. As weather dictates, growing seasons are classified as Spring, Summer, and Fall-Winter, and these urban farmers will learn what are seasonal crops. They will also find out about the length of growth periods for different vegetables so these gardeners will know what they want to plant. Depending upon what is planted, each garden can provide a family of four with salad greens for a year.
Future plans for the community gardens is to eventually have a garden in each Commission District, and depending upon the success with this initial community garden, the Peschas may explore a second community garden in a non-adjacent district in the Spring 2018. Additionally, there are proposals for “grow to share” communal garden beds. With these beds, several people would tend and care for the beds, and the harvested produce would then be donated to the organizations who help those who are disadvantaged.
Company Name: City of Deltona
Contact Person: Lee Lopez
Country: United States