We  have been getting our hands dirty over at the Crossett Farmers Market. Crossett now has a demo garden, and if you don’t know — as I didn’t — a demo garden is used to teach the community about self sustaining gardening practices along with all the capabilities that come with having a garden.Those practices include things like canning, pickling, making jams and jellies and cooking farm-to-table recipes. 

Now, as with most Parks and Recreation events,  what we started out doing with this garden has evolved into something quite different. We started with the intent of providing a community garden full of various plots cared for, planted and harvested by community members. After a few weeks and only a few fruit trees planted we started noticing that there just wasn’t a whole lot of community interest.  And you can’t have a community anything if the community isn’t interested. So, we did not give up but instead gave way to creativity and rerouted.  Voila! Demo garden. 

Not a green thumb myself this is already a teaching garden. We are using the “Back to Eden” gardening style for this first crop. Which basically means staying all natural. To do that we are using biodegradable cardboard to prevent weed growth then using mulch from the city mulch pile — which is free for anyone wanting to mulch their own garden or flower beds — on top of the cardboard. We are planting dill and mums and marigolds around the perimeter to deter bugs as well as basil in the center for the same reason. Anyone is welcome to come plant a row or two or even three to learn this planting method. And, if you don’t help out, you are still welcome to attend the free classes we will host that will teach the aforementioned subjects. 

Even as a demo garden the interest built has been slow going. Not one to be easily daunted, I was musing on this idea about low community interest trying to figure out how to get people involved, and I verbally stumbled into a prayer. I just basically asked God to use the demo garden to bless this community and thanked Him for allowing me to already be blessed with new knowledge from it. I asked for guidance on how to increase its outreach and wrapped it up with a good amen. 

No sooner had I uttered those two syllables than a bright red mercedes pulled onto the drive that passes the garden. It slowed to a stop, and just as I planted the last tomato plant of the day a lady stepped out and asked what we had going here. I explained about the demo garden, and she patiently listened. 

Then she introduced herself. She was Crossett native Rachel Hawkins, who is with the Agricultire Department at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. I’m going to have to explain to her someday, because I let out a giggle at her title. It wasn’t because the title is funny or her holding it funny, though. I giggled out of mirth over an instant prayer answer and the fact that God drives a red Mercedes. 

She let me know that her department might be interested in hosting some classes and then mentioned one of her colleagues being from Guyana and having a special sweet potato he farms. Wouldn’t that be great to have a class right on Crossett’s Main Street that imparts innovative farming techniques? How progressive! 

And that is key to our survival as a community: being progressive, forward thinking. We can do that, Crossett, while maintaining our uniquely simple character and morals. We can enjoy solid growth by building bit by bit on the already strong foundation of our community. Join our events and grow our community. To do that, call 870-500-0303 and visit with us about what we can do for you and what you can do for Crossett.

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