Green thumbs are coming out of the woodwork to sign up for planting beds in the new Satellite Beach Community Garden approved by the City Council March 1.
Half of the 20 raised beds have already been requested for the 7,650-square-foot garden to be located between existing landscaping on the lawn next to the city racquetball courts near DeSoto Parkway.
The Council authorized $5,000 from the Recycling Trust Fund for construction which includes 20 beds (four feet wide, eight feet long and two feet tall) for $110 each and $1,000 for irrigation systems with pumps and pipes for use of city water during dry weather and rain barrels to capture and store water during rainy seasons. Also in the budget are 50 cubic yards of soil and compost for $1,500 and a trellis, bench and fencing for $300.
Funds generated by the sale of the community garden plots for $50 each will be used to pay for all maintenance and workshops. The garden will be managed by the city Sustainability Board officially created at the same March 1 City Council meeting.
The presentation on the garden was made during a workshop at the meeting by the city’s environmental program coordinator Nick Sanzone. The motion approving the plan passed unanimously.
While many gardeners have expressed interest in getting started as soon as possible, Sanzone suggested a September completion date to have time to do it correctly and to take advantage of the fall growing season.
“With approval, we can purchase materials in May or June, construct the beds and have a ribbon cutting in September. We want to take the time to build something and do it right,’’ he said. City officials are testing the salinity and other aspects of the city water to make sure it is suitable to irrigate vegetables, he said.
The beds will be arranged in an s-pattern to avoid shade from nearby trees and separated by simple rope fencing. Rain barrel systems may be fed by gutters on the racquetball courts, hooked together or stacked to provide additional water pressure, he said. The project is patterned after a similar garden at Florida Tech and one which opened in Wickham Park in 2016 with 40 beds.
Other ideas considered for the Satellite Beach community garden but dropped because of cost included the use of cedar lumber for the beds rather than pressure treated pine and creating small storage boxes as part of each bed.
Besides producing tasty, nutritious vegetables, the community garden is expected to benefit Satellite Beach by becoming a gathering place for residents to meet and positive neighborhood focal point, officials said.
“A community garden not only gives our residents the ability to plant a garden when they may not have been able to at their own home, it also brings people together, and there is something therapeutic about getting your hands in the soil and watching your garden grow,” said city council member Mindy Gibson, who was on the Sustainability Board before she was elected to the council and served on the planning committee for the garden.
Sanzone originally researched how to advertise for garden participants but told the council he was no longer concerned about that aspect of the project considering the initial community response to the idea.