2015 was the first time I heard about Sarasota County’s selection of Orphan Train for its “One Book, One Community” effort, sponsored by the Library system and the Historical Resources department (you might have a similar program in your area). It’s a community-wide project in which residents are encouraged to read the same book, concurrently, and come together to discuss it (maybe meet the author, too). Chosen books are usually those that acknowledge some form of commonality, encourage discussion, and promote a shared love of reading. It’s a wonderful concept, and a great opportunity to connect folks. I love that.
Recently, while at a local plant sale, I was happy to meet a smiling gal wearing a floppy hat and handing out flyers about the “One Seed” program. Mindy Hanak is the Community & School Gardens Coordinator who oversees the community and school gardens throughout Sarasota County. Turns out that in late 2016, her team at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension & Sustainability division wanted to create an edible gardening experience that could be shared by an entire community, simultaneously, and the “One Seed” program was born.
So how does it work? Each Summer, Mindy’s team gathers suggestions and votes from the community about which crop to grow and they announce the winner around October (a good time to start crops in southwest Florida). Then they get the seeds out into the community, and Master Gardeners offer classes on how to grow them. All folks have to do is get the seeds, attend a class (optional), plant them in a backyard plot/raised bed/pot on the patio, care for them and enjoy their harvest!
I’m planting the kale seeds in my own garden, which is coming along nicely: 6 varieties of tomatoes (including 2 heirlooms), sweet potatoes, sweet & hot peppers, collards, broccoli, and healthy bunches of rosemary and lemongrass; a little Elderberry bush, Beautyberry, more butterfly attractors, Muscodine grapes and pineapples (including my first ornamental/baby pineapples!); chard, beets and more herbs will get going when the heat settles down. Oh, and my little Meyer lemon tree has 6 lemons SLOWLY turning yellow/orange. Here are a few pics: