By Cal Colgan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Matthew Boyle
Cash McVay is finally seeing his group’s idea come to fruition.
McVay, 39, is one of the directors of CitySprout, a local organization dedicated to promoting energy conservation by planting community gardens in St. Augustine. This August, CitySprout finished building the perimeter fence and laying the dirt for the Lincolnville Community Garden, a 900-square foot plot located at the Eddie L. Vickers Recreational Facility in Lincolnville.
McVay says the new garden will build community interaction and will serve as a symbol of energy conservation.
“Having a showcase garden in downtown St. Augustine will broaden awareness as to where we get our food from,” he said. “Hopefully, it leads to other, bigger community-related projects that connect our community with local farmers.”
The Lincolnville plot already seems to be fostering community participation, especially with students, alumni and faculty at Flagler College. The college’s Students in Free Enterprise team gave a donation of $1,000 to CitySprout. Sociology professor Casey Welch, Ph.D, has worked on the construction of the garden with alumnus Chad Smith, alumna Teresa Segal is shooting photographs to show the development of the garden, and student Drew Miller is capturing footage about the garden’s construction.
Chuck Riffenburg has also been instrumental in the construction of the plot. Riffenburg, 23, is interning with CitySprout for the fall semester. Riffenburg has tried to promote Flagler students’ involvement in the Lincolnville Community Garden.
“I joined the newly-formed Green Committee with SGA and with that we get a budget of $1,000 to go toward random green projects,” Riffenburg said.
Riffenburg has also shared information about the garden with the Outdoor Club and is promoting the creation of other plots in St. Augustine like the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, the Mision Nombre de Dios and Crookshank Elementary School.
“I think [the idea] goes beyond Lincolnville,” he said. “It’s going to generate interest beyond St. Augustine and hopefully beyond that.”
McVay said CitySprout have raised enough money for the community garden to begin building its infrastructure. The garden will have 20 raised boxes within the perimeter fence so that locals can grow their own produce. There will also be large garden boxes around the fence that will be maintained by and for the community of St. Augustine. Near the garden will be an educational pavilion that will offer programs to teach locals to grow their own food.
“We’re half-way done with the educational pavilion, and we hope to have that complete in about two weeks; the raised garden boxes in three weeks,” said McVay. “After the irrigation system is complete, we’re going to have more opportunities for volunteers.”
While CitySprout hopes to bring community members together through collective projects, its primary goal is environmental sustainability.
“Really, the biggest bang for the buck is going to be energy conservation, and being able to get your food from a local source is a huge statement and program,” McVay said.
Riffenburg said that one of the primary reasons he is trying to promote the creation of additional gardens to the one in Lincolnville is to promote self-reliance among local consumers.
“I just want people to realize how important it is [that] we start becoming self-sustaining as a community, and [don’t rely] on the corporate power structure as is.”