Siler City Collaborative Garden enriches through food and community

Fundraiser set for Friday; hands from all across community join to nurture urban garden

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SILER CITY — With the theme of “Every Day is Earth Day,” a celebration fundraiser for the Siler City Collaborative Garden has been scheduled for Friday, April 22.

The urban garden, located at 117 E. Second St. in downtown Siler City, will be the focal point of the event, set for 5 to 8 p.m. that day.

“We’re inviting everyone to a party to support and celebrate our community by breaking bread in a place where we learn about and grow fresh food,” said Danielle McComas, director and one of the founders of Robin Hood’s Kitchen, which manages the garden and its activities.

The celebration will be an “everyone eats” event and welcomes donations according to ability. Food, specialty drinks, kids’ activities and crafting, plant giveaways, art demos and educational opportunities for youth and families will be available for attendees to enjoy. The Original Haw River Crawdaddies will provide the music. The town of Siler City has given permission to block off the street to accommodate pedestrian traffic. CORA Food Pantry will offer bags of food for anyone in need.

“The celebration will allow the public to see the rejuvenation and beautification of the garden space as a fun, friendly place for individuals and families,” said Tych Cowdin, executive director of Communities In Schools of Chatham County. “Visitors will see the start of the spring gardening season and can take away a seed-starter. A few things are growing in the garden now.”

Communities In Schools is both a main collaborator and a beneficiary of the garden.

“Some of the plants are already in for a native garden,” said McComas, “and we’ll have a beehive so visitors can learn about bees and how they work with plants.”

Pittsboro’s Dutch Buffalo Farm has donated all of the native plants, as well as expertise.

“The bluebird couple that has moved into the beautiful birdhouse that has been installed in the garden is the talk of downtown,” McComas said.

Local carpenter Stephan Meyers built the birdhouse.

The Siler City Collaborative Garden, approximately 4,300 square feet in size, is designed to develop a microcosm of restorative agriculture — a sustainable urban ecosystem. McComas said its goal is to help educate people, calling a garden a place for them “to grow and learn.”

“We want it to be an education center where people can learn about sustainability, (learn) how to grow their own food and spend time outdoors,” said Cowdin.

Robin Hood’s Kitchen manages the classes as well as the volunteers that come through, according to McComas.

“We’re working with a group of kids, ages 14-18, from El Vínculo Hispano who come to volunteer in the garden,” she said. “We do a class for them about gardening and have guest speakers. We try to make it something foundational so people can use gardening as a tool to collaborate with people and learn how it all works and to find something they can do recreationally to relax, as well.”

Food grown there will help to relieve food insecurity in Chatham County as agencies organized around that need distribute it among the community. Several other organizations working to end food insecurity in the area collaborate in developing the garden, including the Siler City Community Meal and some local churches. Some of the vegetable produce will be used in classes conducted. Local merchants Richard and Sue Szary, owners of Twin Birch & Teasel in Siler City, own the land upon which the garden is situated.

McComas and the garden’s program director, Amanda Jones of Robin Hood’s Kitchen, coordinate the volunteer groups, projects and programs for the garden.

Volunteers come to the garden from all across Chatham County and numerous people and nonprofit organizations have given time, funds and in-kind donations. Other sponsors and collaborators include Dutch Buffalo Farm; In Good Heart Farm; Granite Springs Farm; Heartsong Farm; Country Farm and Home; Brooks Contractor; Southwind Retreat Center/Polestar Pilates; Relicks; Lowes; True Value; Chatham Marketplace; Tasting Queens Market; Tribucha Kombucha; and Twin Birch & Teasel. Nonprofits engaged with the goals and developments of the Siler City Collaborative Garden also include El Vínculo Hispano; Inter-faith Food Shuttle; Chatham Resource Hub; B Good; Charlie Mike Foundation; NC Arts Incubator; and The Alliance NC.

(Read about the history of the garden here.)

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