Building a community through a garden
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – Carrie and Richard Nelson’s yard at 19721 S. Ferry St., was once filled with peach trees, pecan trees, plum trees and a bountiful vegetable garden.
It’s where a lot of the kids in the Smithville neighborhood would hang out under the cool shade during the summer, and it’s that same sense of community the Smithville Community Coalition wants to bring back by building a community garden.
The community coalition began exploring the idea of a garden in the fall and asked neighbors if they’d be willing to donate land for the project.
After much discussion, the Nelsons’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren decided as a family their home would be the perfect place.
The house, more than 100 years old, was likely one of the very first homes built in Smithville, Nelson’s granddaughter Delorus Williams said. And until two or three years ago, the family maintained the garden.
Before Smithville Park existed across from the home, Smithville residents maintained a community garden there in what used to be an old cotton field.
Lisa Mayhew-Jones, Williams’ daughter, and co-chair of the Smithville Community Coalition, said she recalls spending many days in her grandparents’ garden.
“We used to just eat outside and didn’t have to go inside and bother the grownups,” Mayhew-Jones said.
The goal of the community garden is to have picnic tables and other accessories that create a place where the community can come together and communicate, she said.
The Smithville Community Coalition’s mission is to better the community by beautifying it and engaging the residents through community activities, job training opportunities and other programs that preserve the neighborhood’s history and secure its future. Mayhew-Jones said the community garden is a big part of the mission.
“It gives the people the opportunity to have their own garden and crops, and hopefully we can give back to Bread of Life ministry and help feed our neighbors,” Mayhew-Jones said. “What this does is get the community back together because that’s the way it used to be.”
The garden plots will each be 4-feet-by-8-feet and cost gardeners $10 a year. Mayhew-Jones said they need at least 10 people signed up to get the garden started. They already have five names so far.
“We really want to get the list of names together by (the end of) July so we can start planning for fall in September,” Mayhew-Jones said.
But before the work can begin on plowing the plots, the community coalition will need volunteers to help sign up for yard work like tree trimming and fencing.
“We definitely need a hand up with that,” Mayhew-Jones said.
And Mayhew-Jones stressed this garden isn’t just for Smithville residents, but for all Cornelius residents.
“It’s for anyone who wants to be a part of it,” she said.