Edisto Court Community Garden Youth Win Ribbons at State Fair

"I learned about how to grow things," said Franzia, a Rosewood Elementary third-grader. "And I learned about working with people."

The story as it appeared in The State October 21, 2006:

Youth Find Garden a Rewarding Hobby

By Bertram Rantin, News Columnist

The first-, second- and third-place ribbons mark a trifecta for members of the Edisto Court neighborhood.

For months, many in the Columbia community off Rosewood Drive had brainstormed about ways to create a neighborhood garden. Today, they not only have a garden, but some young champion caretakers as well. William Pauling, Franzia Burns, and Loritta Blanding won the top three ribbons in this year’s green gourds competition at the South Carolina State Fair.

"I learned about how to grow things," said Franzia, a Rosewood Elementary third-grader. "And I learned about working with people."

The story as it appeared in The State October 21, 2006:

Youth Find Garden a Rewarding Hobby

By Bertram Rantin, News Columnist

The first-, second- and third-place ribbons mark a trifecta for members of the Edisto Court neighborhood.

For months, many in the Columbia community off Rosewood Drive had brainstormed about ways to create a neighborhood garden. Today, they not only have a garden, but some young champion caretakers as well. William Pauling, Franzia Burns, and Loritta Blanding won the top three ribbons in this year’s green gourds competition at the South Carolina State Fair.

"I learned about how to grow things," said Franzia, a Rosewood Elementary third-grader. "And I learned about working with people."

The story as it appeared in The State October 21, 2006:

Youth Find Garden a Rewarding Hobby

By Bertram Rantin, News Columnist

The first-, second- and third-place ribbons mark a trifecta for members of the Edisto Court neighborhood.

For months, many in the Columbia community off Rosewood Drive had brainstormed about ways to create a neighborhood garden. Today, they not only have a garden, but some young champion caretakers as well. William Pauling, Franzia Burns, and Loritta Blanding won the top three ribbons in this year’s green gourds competition at the South Carolina State Fair.

The youth were part of an effort to beautify the Edisto community, and their prize-winning gourds remain on display in the Cantey Building during the fair, which ends Sunday.

"The purpose was to foster positive community relationships between older residents and the youth and for them to be able to learn from each other," Betsy Watson, president of the Edisto Court Community Council, said.

Watson and other community members, including Sarah Williams, originally had the idea to create the "common ground" garden, one of many similar projects undertaken in urban neighborhoods across the country.

"The idea has been around for a long time, but it kind of all came together in February," Williams said.

When seeking a place to locate the garden, the residents identified three empty lots. After getting permission from the property owners to establish the garden there, the members began cleanup and planting Easter Sunday. And as the work progressed, more and more young people–about 15 in all–got involved.

"Some of the kids in the neighborhood starting coming back every day," Williams said. "As long as there was a grownup there, they wanted to be involved with it."

In the weeks following Easter, the group planted rows of collards, corn, eggplants, tomatoes and green gourds. Several businesses donated garden supplies and the city provided compost.

"This garden was intended from the beginning to be a shared thing," Williams said.

In August, Williams said she urged some of the younger helpers to enter their vegetables in the State Fair competition. Their produce was harvested the Monday before the fair opened.

Watson said the recognition is added confirmation of their efforts.

"They enjoyed seeing the fruit of their labor," Watson said.

"They did not mind being out there in the heat, pulling (weeds) and working."

For the young workers, the effort proved educational.

"I learned about how to grow things," said Franzia, a Rosewood Elementary third-grader. "And I learned about working with people."

Added to the individual honors, the Edisto group earned second places finishes for collards and eggplants.

"This is the first year we’ve ever put a seed in the ground," Williams said.

But it likely won’t be the last.

Watson said the garden will be maintained, adding it’s already gone a long way in building neighborhood pride.

"This is part of our way of enriching our neighborhood. We took an empty lot and made it a beautiful part of the community."