August 2018 Park Angels of the Month: Michelle Lee and Steven Sandifer

For many, tending your own garden and growing your own produce may seem like a pastoral dream, but for James Island residents Steven Sandifer and Michelle Lee, gardening is a new skill harvested right at Medway Community Garden.

Steven Sandifer and Michelle Lee have lived on James Island for more than ten years. Despite being out on James Island for all these years it wasn’t until Medway opened up that the two got their hands dirty gardening.

When asked on their level of experience starting at the community garden Steven shared, “None.” with a smile. “We did have some raised beds, but not with a ton of success,” Michelle laughed. “That’s okay,” she added, “Because the best way to learn how to garden is through trial and error. And, of course, asking Leslie our community gardener coordinator. She’s a wealth of information.”

In early July 2018, Steven and Michelle had harvested and donated their very own tomatoes and carrots to James Island Outreach.

For Steven and Michelle their skill level didn’t matter as long as they were willing to ask for help. “It certainly is encouraging to be surrounded by the success of the other plots,” Steven added.
“Just the sheer amount of food that comes out of these community beds is crazy. Just one sixteen by four foot plot puts out pounds of fresh food. Just the other week we harvested twelve pounds of grape tomatoes from one community bed.”

In 2015, Steven heard through a friend about the then-new community garden at Medway. Steven jumped on the opportunity at the first open plot and a year later Michelle leased her own as well. Since that time Steven and Michelle have become enthusiastic supporters of Medway Community Garden.

“It’s a great use of space. On the human level, it brings people together. It makes you feel that your neighborhood is more of a community instead of just a place you live,” said Michelle.

“It gives people the opportunity to become more connected with their food. In a lot of ways we are disconnected with our farmers and to get your hands in the dirt and see something grow all the way from seed to something you can eat, take home, and share with people is a huge thing,” said Steven. Even if you don’t have a bed or are waiting for one, you can and help with the community beds which are given to local food banks like the James Island Outreach.”

Since 2014 Park Angels collectively have grown and donated more than 9,000 pounds of produce from our community gardens to local food pantries.

To learn more about the Community Gardening program and how you can apply for your own community garden bed visit:
https://www.charlestonparksconservancy.org/programs

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