Neighborhood Businesses Get Involved with Elliotborough Community Garden
This past year has seen a lot of changes out at the Elliotborough Community Garden. New raised beds were constructed, the vertical container garden was revamped, and a new fence and space along the Crosstown opened up a whole new realm of gardening possibilities. Amongst these physical and visual changes, a slight change in who is leasing the plots and where some of the harvested produce is going is continuing to give this garden a true “community” feel.
A majority of the 4 x 8 foot raised beds are still rented by a mix of neighborhood residents, families, and college students, but some local Elliotborough and Cannonborough shops and restaurants have also started to get their hands dirty and get involved.
New to the garden this year are Nicole Brown of Dell’z Vibez Juice Bar and Bill Bowick of (annual Party for the Parks sponsor) Sugar Bakeshop and their staffs. These local businesses maintain their plots through the entire gardening cycle, from Bowick slinging pitchforks full of mushroom compost into his raised bed in the early springtime and planting the crops he can most utilize, to the harvest and use of these herbs and flowers in his Cannon St. bakeshop. “We use the spearmint in our sun brewed iced tea which we make every morning”, says Bowick. “We also use fresh, sugared mint leaves to decorate special order mint cakes and cupcakes.” Bowick added “as our lemongrass matures a little more we will also be adding that to our sun tea.” He says they are using chocolate mint grown at the garden to make fresh mint chocolate chip ice cream, and that wildflowers grown in their plot and in the shared community space are used in arrangements that greet customers as they enter the shop.
Dell’z Vibez is a health and juice bar on King St. just around the corner from the famous Dell’z Deli. Nicole Brown manages the bar and got involved in the garden earlier this summer, where her and some of her employees maintain a plot. She hopes to start really getting involved this fall, growing the leafy greens that do so well in the season’s cooler temperatures and make her smoothies so healthy and nutritious.
One of Elliotborough’s favorite hangouts, D’Allesandro’s Pizza, is continuing to stay involved as well. Owner Nick D’Allesandro and his wife used to maintain a plot in the garden and still donate pizzas to help feed volunteers during big workdays at the garden. The shop is also planning to collaborate with the garden by incorporating some seasonal harvests from the garden’s donation beds into salads, on top of pizzas, and on to their specials board, where eggplant from the garden is currently featured in an Eggplant Parmesan dish. The hope is to create awareness and exposure for local community gardens and urban farms, and to have small portions of each sale featuring the special items from the garden go directly back into supplies and maintenance for the garden.
These local businesses getting involved in community gardening are great steps toward a true sense of community; encompassing the residents, their family and friends, and the places that help tie them all together. It also adds great momentum to the expansion of community gardens to other Charleston area neighborhoods in the near future.