Volunteers to break ground for Cookeville Community Garden

Plans to begin the Cookeville Community Garden are in motion as spring comes to the Upper Cumberland.Since June, a group of Cookeville community members has been hard at work creating an organic garden.

“Not everyone has the space or ability to garden at home,” said Lachelle Norris, sociology associate professor, “thus the idea of the Cookeville Community Garden was born. This small group has been working to make this happen ever since.”

President of the Board Lisa Luck, who also works with the Cookeville-Putnam County Clean Commission, hopes to use the garden as a means to beautify the community and spread awareness about sustainability.

“I thought the garden would be a great place for the Clean Commission to provide education on waste management, including litter awareness, recycling, composting, water conservation and sorting litter,” Luck said. “It will also provide a place for [Cookeville’s public television station] WCTE to provide education on their Living Green program and for Master Gardeners to provide education on gardening.”

The garden will also be available to other non-for-profit organizations, especially those that work with children and the elderly.

Norris’ environmental sociology class plays a large role in the continuing development of the garden.

“My class has been busy getting the word out, soliciting donations and materials [and] even designing the logo,” Norris said. “[They are] helping create positive change in our community by assisting with the gardens.”

Junior sociology major Carolyn Miller is an active advocate for the garden. In addition to required class participation, she attends board meetings and helps with publicity.

“I got involved through environmental sociology with Dr. Norris as a part of the class,” Miller said. “As soon as I heard the idea, I was on board and began going to meetings the next day.”

The community garden will also be a resource to Tech students who are interested in gardening or need volunteer experience.

“Tech students could provide their time as volunteer credit. Many classes require a community aspect that you must fulfill, and obviously this would satisfy that,” Miller said.

The garden site itself is located at the intersection of Walnut Street and Veterans Drive and is accessible via the CATS bus system.

“The land is on loan to us, as it is usually used by the Putnam County fairgrounds,” Norris said. “The city has graciously agreed to let us garden there.”

The first official work day for the garden is tomorrow.

“We hope to have the first 13 to 15 boxes built and filled with soil after April 9 and ready for people to start planting,” Norris said. “We have plans for approximately 77 raised beds or so total, but right now we will be building as we go and as people sign on.”

There are several ways to become involved with the community garden.

“Staff and students can participate by serving on our board, donating funds or materials, sponsoring a plot for someone, helping publicize, offering their expertise and experience in workshops or by merely adopting a plot themselves and getting in on the fun,” Norris said.

The first garden party is set for April 30, and all interested gardeners and sponsors are welcome.

For more information about the Cookeville Community Garden, go to www.cookevillegarden.org or e-mail questions to communitygarden.tn@gmail.com.