Holiday Island Community Garden opens

Friday, November 18, 2016
After an opening ceremony, gardening enthusiasts wander among the 29 raised growing beds Wednesday in the Holiday Island Community Garden near the The Barn on the Island. Fencing to protect the beds from wildlife is due to arrive soon, according to project founder B. J. Dennis. (Photo by David F. Dempsey/Carroll County News)

HOLIDAY ISLAND --Ten months after she began researching the idea of developing a Holiday Island Community Garden, B. J. Dennis cut the ribbon in an opening ceremony on the Island on Wednesday. About 30 gardeners and volunteers attended the opening.

A few finishing touches remain to be done including eight-foot-tall fencing that is due to arrive soon as well as a water line with a spigot and a water meter that will be installed inside the garden. The Community Garden is located between the Children's Playground and the Miniature Golf Course at the Recreation Center. Most of the garden's 29 raised Arkansas cedar beds are already sponsored but there are still a handful of beds available for three-year sponsorships or one-year leases, according to Dennis.

Dennis said bringing the garden to the community was a result of an unusual joint effort between the Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District, Holiday Island Homeowners Association, the Garden Club, Holiday Islanders Promoting Residential Ownership, area businesses and a lot of volunteers.

Seventeen volunteers put in 205 hours building the garden that has an estimated cost of $10,000. HISID will shoulder the cost of the fencing with its estimated cost of $5,000. The rest of the costs will be paid for from bed leases, and donations. The breakdown of those costs is $3,000 for the beds, $1.500 for compost, $220 for gravel and $200 for topsoil.

The beds are all 24 inches tall and range in size from 2x4 feet to 4x8 feet. Three-year sponsorships are from $100 to $400 depending on bed size. Sponsorships feature a one-time payment with no price hikes for the three-year period. A wood sign engraved with the sponsor's name is included along with the sponsor's name appearing in all marketing materials. One-year user fees range from $20 to $60.

The fence will enclose the 90x90-foot space although the beds now occupy approximately a 60x60-foot portion.

"We have sustainable room for expansion in the future," Dennis said.

The beds are primarily intended for use in growing vegetables, flowers and herbs but gardeners are encouraged to grow at least some species of plants that attract pollinators like butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

Dennis worked long hours promoting and gaining support for the garden. Her motto has been, "Persistence overcomes resistance." She used that persistence to eventually win out out over some early resistance among the HISID Board of Commissioners and some HIHA members. She gave credit to District Manager Lawrence Blood saying the project probably would have failed without his continued support from the beginning.

Aside from the cost of the fencing, the Community Garden was designed to be a self-sustaining amenity with bed sponsorships and user fees paying for its maintenance and water use costs, according to Dennis. A compost area outside the fence is also planned.

Individuals, groups or businesses may sponsor growing beds. Sun Fest Market has sponsored a bed and will have two of its employees maintain it. The produce will be donated to the Flint Creek Food Bank. To check on availability of growing beds contact Dennis by email at bjdcross1@gmail.com or by telephone at 479-721-7237.

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