The Village of Atlantic Beach is opening a community garden this summer. The village is installing 10 raised beds, including one specifically for children and another four-foot by four-foot bed that is wheelchair accessible, just south of the Atlantic Beach Tennis Center, and across the street from Village Hall on The Plaza.
Village resident Suzy Schneider spearheaded the idea for a garden. She recalls seeing empty garden beds while walking along the boardwalk last summer. “I thought how lovely it would be to have a place where residents could meet and share their skills with one another,” she said. “People could learn from each other, and learn about sustainability and pesticide free foods.”
There was a meeting to kick-off the program on Jan. 24, and while, according to Schneider, there hasn’t been a date set for February’s meeting, they hope to have the garden up and running by Earth Day, April 22.
Schneider hopes that the garden can bring residents together, “It’s a way to bring people together for more than a village meeting,” she said. “This is about something larger than ourselves. It’s The village garden could one day also be somewhere that the village can use to host classes, performances and other events.
Schneider mentioned organic cooking classes, and that also they plan to establish relationships with local soup kitchens so they can donate what they grow.
Schneider first brought the idea up to Atlantic Beach Trustee Andrew Rubin, who she said then passed it along to Mayor George Pappas. Rubin “loved it,” said Schneider. “He brought it to Pappas and they all embraced the seed of this idea. It’s grown into the concerted effort to get it open for the spring,” she added.
Rubin said that he thought it was a great idea as soon as Schneider told him about it, “I had been looking for an activity all the residents can be involved in,” he said. “We all live at the beach, we love the ocean, but now we’ll have somewhere else we can run into each other. We can work on it together and help beautify neighborhood.”
Pappas referred to the garden as, “A place for neighbors to meet each other and participate on all levels of planting and gardening,” he said. “I’m very excited to be a part of this green initiative.”
State Assemblywoman Melissa Miller, represents Atlantic Beach, and lives in the village. Miller is, “very excited for the official opening this spring,” she said. “At each stage of the garden, there will be an opportunity to learn, meet your neighbors and enjoy locally-produced food. The garden will bring the entire community together to work on something that is not just rewarding for everyone but at the end of the day will benefit us all.”
For more information, including how to sign up to volunteer for or donate to the project, go to http://www.villageofatlanticbeach.com/garden/.