PENSACOLA, Fla.-- “From the Ground Up Community Garden,” located across the street from the Pensacola Police Department in Downtown Pensacola is all about community, education, organic gardening and visual/performing arts.
The garden is a project through the Corporate Social Responsibility program of Innisfree Hotels, which they began cultivating in spring 2015. Now, the longtime director of the project, Elizabeth Eubanks, is leading the restructuring of the garden as they navigate changes during the pandemic.
Eubanks has been leading the volunteer-based garden for over six years, using her Masters in Education to shape the project from more than just a garden but also a learning opportunity for members of the community, particularly children.
“I love working with the Dixon scholars or any students really because I think for kids to know how to garden and grow food is just priceless. Last year they planted regular potatoes, harvested them, and then did quality control on them. Then they cleaned them, chopped them and shredded them. They went into the garden and got onions and peppers and cooked them.”
Eubanks is amazed at seeing how receptive they are at learning and participating in the growing of their food and knowing that they can take these skills to their own yards.
“I’m in the garden, depending on the season, anywhere from 10 to 40 or 50 hours depending on what events we have,” Eubanks said. “Now what we’re doing is cleaning up from the summer and the little storm that happened. It’s a really transitional, pivotal point where we really need to start revamping the garden.”
The area was originally owned by the city before Innisfree Hotels took over. At the top of Eubanks’ agenda is converting the entire space into a “labyrinth,” giving it a fresh look. She hopes to use the time of revamping to teach the students at Dixon School of Arts and Sciences and other volunteers how to make stone and mortar garden beds to achieve the aesthetic she’s imagining.
The community garden posts its volunteer hours weekly via Instagram and Facebook. Due to COVID-19, Eubanks now asks volunteers to give her a heads up on what day they plan to come to maintain safety.
They’ve recently started seeding their winter crops, which are mostly root vegetables like radishes and carrots, thick leafy greens like kales and collards and lettuces like turnips and bok choy.
“I feel like we’re a little bit late this year but with all the rain and the winds from [Hurricane] Ida but I don’t have time to worry about that, we have other things to do,” Eubanks said.
The space isn’t just for cultivating fruits and vegetables, but also local community talent. On Oct. 9 the garden will be hosting the annual Slow Ride Bike Event from Bike Pensacola. The event will allow dozens of bikers to explore the downtown area and then come back to From the Ground Up to enjoy local performers and vendors of the Pensacola Arts Market.
The garden, which is great for great for office parties, weddings and other celebrations, has big plans for the following months with more local musicians and festivities to be announced soon.
Stay up to date with the events of From the Ground Up Community and Garden and learn more about volunteer information by visiting their website.
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