DOBBINS HEIGHTS — From stories about the old days to the scenery of the old days, Dobbins Heights is taking inspiration from the past to build a better way forward.
When Edward Tender grew up in Dobbins Heights, gardens were a regular sight in the town. As both an aesthetic feature and a shared interest, he said they brought the community together.
“Dobbins Heights used to have a garden at every house,” Tender said. “It was something we always did was have a garden but we got away from it.”
Now the town will have it’s own community garden, run by Tender, thanks to a partnership with FirstHealth and the N.C. Cooperative Extension.
Using land donated to the town on Page Street, the first turn off of Earle Franklin Drive, residents will share a community garden with the guidance of experienced gardeners from around the area. The Extension office is offering guidance using lessons learned from the community garden at the Hitchcock Creek Trail on Steele Street, which began in 2014, and is also helping test the soil, according to Susan Kelly, county extension director.
“The reason they’re called community gardens is because gardens are things people seek out,” Kelly said. “People who garden at Hitchcock are looking to garden alongside others … A lot of people get involved because they’re learning. It’s a low-cost, safe way to learn more about gardening.”
The Hitchcock Creek community garden has reserved plots that residents can sign up for, whereas the Dobbins Heights garden will be shared between all participants, according to Kelly.
The Dobbins Heights garden was born out of a series of meetings between residents, town officials and FirstHealth representatives held over nine months to discuss what they wanted to see happen in the town, what was needed and what could be fixed.
Those meetings spawned at least five more projects: Pink Sundays to raise awareness about breast cancer, swimming lessons, CPR training, a community newsletter and storytelling nights. The first storytelling night was held at the Dobbins Heights Community Center on March 12.
The garden’s governing board will hold a planning meeting April 5 at 6 p.m. at the Community Center. Planting will begin at the end of April, according to Tender. Participation in the garden is open to anyone who is interested.
“(The garden) is about helping the community stand on its own two feet,” Tender said. “It’s not only getting the citizens of Dobbins Heights back together, it’s helping the whole county.”
Mayor Antonio Blue spoke fondly of the gardens that were a common sight in Dobbins Heights when he was growing up.
“I think the garden is a great thing because it will bring fresh vegetables and other crops to the area for people,” Blue said. “People need to help so they can benefit from it and it will help the kids — the kids need to eat fresh vegetables.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]