Community garden brings people together [Old Town]

Laurel Leader

Tucked away behind Laurel Presbyterian Church off of Old Sandy Spring Road, a patch of dirt has been transformed from a barren plot to a fertile garden that produces vegetables of all varieties. More importantly, it has connected people in Old Town and throughout the city with the food they eat.

“We want to have a good, healthy relationship with our food,” said Dawn Williams, a master gardener and president of the Laurel Community Garden Corp. “We go to the grocery store and get our fruits and vegetables and we don’t think about where they come from. We’re trying to change that relationship.”

This year is the garden’s sixth growing season. Features of the garden include 56 plots of varying sizes available to rent and a communal compost site. There is a plot dedicated to producing produce for Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services, which distributes them to families in need, and Elizabeth House, which serves meals to the homeless. That plot has produced about 400 pounds of produce for the needy so far this season. There is also a plot for cancer patients and survivors.

A highlight of the growing season is the garden’s fourth annual Cops and Crops event, which will be held Saturday, Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the garden. The event is free and open to the public, and families with children are especially encouraged to attend. There will be demonstrations of the role of bees in the pollination process. Kids will work with police officers from the City of Laurel Police Department to learn how to garden and what benefits it offers.

“It bridges the relationship between children and police officers,” Williams said. “It’s something fun for everybody and the more folks we have come out, the more we can raise awareness about healthy eating habits.”

Gardening is an especially attractive endeavor for police officers, first responders and others with stressful jobs because it is therapeutic and encourages a healthy lifestyle, Williams said. Gardening at the community garden has the added benefit of a good social aspect.

Williams said the community garden has found fertile ground in Laurel and blossomed into something beautiful. She is hopeful that in the coming years, demand for plots will necessitate the addition of a second community garden site. Community gardening is especially attractive for residents who do not have yards, she said, and may be bolstered by the residents in apartment buildings along Fourth Street and off of Konterra Road.

For more information about the City of Laurel Community Garden, e-mail Williams at dawn_williams32@rocketmail.com.

Laurel Senior Friendship Club offers Tuesday bingo year-round at the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center, 7120 Contee Road, said Gail L. Johnson, publicity chair.

Bingo is open to all seniors from 12 to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays with 25 games, both regular and special. There is no admission fee. Johnson said it is “old-fashioned bingo” with paper cards. The price is $4 for three cards and $8 for six cards. There is also a “half-time break” with a 50/50 cash raffle and pull-tabs are available for purchase. Bring your own snacks. For any questions, contact the LSFC office Monday thru Friday, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 301-206-3380.

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