A Community Garden Takes Root
- story by Ellis Anderson and photography by Katharine Truett Ohman
Like most living things, it’s taking a while to grow – especially while it’s first establishing itself.
But now the community garden seems to have taken firm root in Bay St. Louis and is growing daily. And in October, a new mural will be begin to blossom, testifying to the positive power gardening can have on individuals – and community.
The mural will be painted on the existing metal building located at the site of the Bay St. Louis Community Garden, at the corner of St. Francis and Bookter Streets. The mural’s design was submitted by local artist Kathleen Johnson, who was inspired by an unexpected garden after Hurricane Katrina.
The Town Green
The mural is part of a long-term plan for the garden, one that is geared to eventually engage the entire community. For instance, the garden is supported by several local organizations, including MS State Extension Service, Hancock County Master Gardeners, NAACP, and the Boys & Girls Club. All produce grown is donated to the Senior Center, along with other Hancock County food pantries.
“The mural is just one part of the big picture,” says Katharine Truett Ohman, who spearheaded the creation of the garden and organizes its maintenance. “Initially, we started with an edible forest. Now we have fruit trees, nine raised beds and twelve table gardens. We even have experimental grape vines and muscadines.”
Donations of plants, seeds, soil and building materials continue to be received from across the state. Some of the materials are being slated for an educational area, where metal benches will make up an outdoor “classroom,” so instructional gardening programs can take place. Future plans call for a covering to shade the classroom too.
In the fall, after the weather cools, a call for volunteers will be issued for painters to help with creation of the mural. In the meantime, groups and individuals meet each Monday morning to weed, water and harvest the garden.
“Our volunteers are open and welcoming,” says Ohman. “We all seem to be grounded in the sense that this is what we need to be doing for our community. We’re taking baby steps now, but eventually, we’ll have a beautiful, flourishing community garden.”