For those who love gardening but don’t have space, a new initiative will soon make your dream come true.
Imagine being able to plant whatever you wish — vegetables, herbs or ornamental flowers — in your plot of land and exercise your green thumb. Pushing that wish into reality, the dream motivated Brooke Hollander to create the Collier County Community Garden Initiative Inc. in the heart of Golden Gate City in 2011.
For $20 annual fee for Golden Gate residents and $35 for other Collier County residents, gardeners will be able to rent a 4-by-12-foot raised garden plot, one of 21 available in a proposed gated communal garden space.
In addition to the garden beds, which may increase as need arises, an edible border hedge of fruit trees will be planted around one side of the fenced perimeter.
The first of its kind on public land and already approved by the Collier County Parks and Recreation, the garden will be near the Golden Gate Community Center’s all-purpose field.
Scheduled for an October debut, each plot rental will include a cache of gardening tools, seeds, fertilizer, drip irrigation poly tubing, composted dirt and the advantage of expert guidance.
In addition to the garden beds, a plant nursery is planned that will allow members to start plants from seedlings. In another section, designated as an herb garden, they can plant and pick their favorite herbs.
A community board will contain posted information and notices of interest to members and plans for lectures by local gardeners are also on tap.
Another distinctive feature of the community garden echoes the impetus for the project.
A children’s learning garden at the far end of the space will allow children to watch plants grow and explore gardening.
An avid gardener, Hollander began to see the art of gardening and love of nature through the eyes of her 5-year-old son.
“In time, even though I played with him while I gardened at home, I felt the need for both of us to connect with others of like mind in the community,” Hollander said.
“In the community garden, young mothers will be able to access a place where they can enjoy a rewarding hobby while allowing their kids to play, feel the earth and experience the joys of watching beans sprout, tomatoes bud, peppers swell and bees and worms work their magic above and below the ground.”
Estimating a preliminary budget of $6,500 projected by August to get the project underway, Hollander said local businesses and sponsors are encouraged to participate and contribute their part in giving back to the community in order to meet the budget projections.
A fundraiser will be held from 8 a.m. to noon April 13 at the Golden Gate Community Center’s Communitywide Yard Sale.
Group members will donate household items, vegetable and ornamental plants and cuttings and a “miracle fruit” tasting will be available for $3. After ingesting, the fruit turns the taste of anything sour to a sweet flavor.
Speakers interested in providing lectures and individuals or groups interested in volunteering with installation can contact the group. Hollander also welcomes local artists who wish to display their art in the garden.
Since its inception, the group has attracted gardening enthusiasts and now numbers almost 20 individuals, including three master gardeners Katie Vance, Donna Glembin and Hollander.
Currently, the group gathers to plan the community garden and members participate in plant swaps where they bring a potted plant, cuttings or seeds to exchange for a plant of their choosing.
The group is partnered with Keep Collier Beautiful Inc., the IFAS Master Gardener Program, UF and Collier Fruit Growers Inc.
Collier County Community Garden Initiative
When: 7 p.m. second Tuesday monthly (in the pavilion adjacent to rear playground). Bring a plant, seeds or cuttings to swap.
Where: Golden Gate Community Center, 4701 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples
For plot reservations: Email CommunityGardenCollier@gmail.com.
Cost: $20 per year (Golden Gate City residents); $35 per year other county residents
Information: 239-455-6231; visit communitygardencollier.weebly.com or Facebook public group “Collier County Community Garden”