Communing in the Garden

The Mural at the Oakhurst Community Garden.

For all things produced in a garden, whether of salads or fruits, a poor man will eat better that has one of his own, than a rich man that has none.
–  J. C. Loudoun

Amazingly, we now have 3 community gardens that I’m familiar with inside a less than 3 mile radius here in the Decatur area, as well as several farm to table school gardens and some urban organic gardens supplying local restaurants. In fact, almost every house has a garden of some sort around here! In part, this can be attributed to the likes of Farmer D, who has made it his mission to bring organic and bio-dynamic gardening—and the reaped rewards of it—to every child and adult’s table in Georgia. And being that I’m a very frustrated organic gardener myself, every now and then I like to go and visit some of those gardens that have more sun than I do and therefore can grow those things that I cannot. Here’s a peek of a little walking tour last weekend of our local community gardens, which I find to be both beautiful and inspirational. Enjoy!

This first one is at Mason Mill Park, a newly renovated park at one end of the Mason Mill/Medlock Park trail in Decatur, GA—a sweet little community garden.

(Above) This was some of the prettiest lettuce I’ve seen in a garden. Below is a baby lettuce patch, some marigolds and one of the last tomatoes of the season.

We strolled along the Mason Mill/Medlock Park Trail while we were there, and saw another little neighborhood garden, and…does anyone know what this plant below is?

If you said Poke Sallet, you are correct! Actually it is poke weed, but the young leaves are edible when cooked and then it’s called poke sallet…however, I have not tried them/it (yet???). Next in our wanderings we went to downtown Decatur to see the Community Garden located behind the recreation center and next to the library.

You know you’re almost there when you see this sign. Below is the view into this very urban garden. Alas, most of it was past prime, but there were some pretty flowers still going.

Our last stop was the “mac-daddy”—and I mean this as a positive term of high praise and respect—of the local gardens, The Oakhurst Community Garden. (Below)

This is one hum-dinger of a garden. It spans about 1/2 of a city block and is composed of a main house, many green houses for seed sprouting and wintering, a bee keeping area, a chicken area, and lots and lots of personal garden boxes. There are also several “rooms” within this garden for sitting, playing or just pondering nature in all her majesty. This community garden does a lot of fund-raising to maintain itself as you can tell by visiting it, and amongst those fund-raisers that I know about are several plant sales during the year, tours, gardening events and a “Maritinis in the Garden” cocktail event.

One of two entrances into the Oakhurst garden…this one looks towards the beekeeping area.

Walking into the garden you see greenhouses, boxes, rooms and some pretty flowers, too!

This is a very yard art, artists and kid-friendly place and you see that everywhere. Those tiny specs just above and to the left of the Bee Alert sign are….the bees!

Chicken coop. The black one in the foreground was having none of this picture taking business…too busy scratching out a hole for worms no doubt.

As you round a corner you see one of the many artworks in this garden. This one happens to be by our friend and potter extraordinaire, Barry Gregg.

So many of the boxes are adorned in some way. This one says: Grandma’s Garden. Below is one with a scarecrow at the end and another had a metal sculpture of a clothes line…just charming.

There were some lovely and interesting summer veggies still to be found here as well as new plantings for fall greens.

Two shots of purple okra…so pretty I though it deserved to be seen twice!

And there were some very nice, but shy eggplants….

The peppers in this garden were doing just fine and I can’t show them all, but here are two lovely bell peppers, red and purple, and some little tiny red peppers…ornamental perhaps?

And these pretty berries were on the way out of the garden, so I snapped them, too.

So, here’s the end of my tour, and as you can see, Oakhurst is in the midst of one of their plant sales, and—as I am now inspired to tackle my own shaded garden once more—I plan to go back this week and get some starters! Happy digging…


6 thoughts on “Communing in the Garden

  1. hi betsy,
    thank you for the shout out. i love the oakhurst community garden. i went on the urban coop tour on sunday and it was fantastic. as is your blog. i hope to see you soon.


  2. I lived in rural Kentucky for a few years. My eighty year old neighbor would clear out my poke every spring.

    “If you don’t get em when they are just little leaves you gotta cook em to git the ‘pysen’ out.”

    We never ate the sallet but would cook them with a pork roast. A nice addition.


    • That’s so cool, Louis! What does the poke taste like? I thought you always had to cook it, even the young leaves, to get the ‘pysen’ out. I’ve heard about Poke Sallet for years, but never tasted it or been to one of the festivals…evidently they have one in Arab, AL and one in Harlan, KY…bet that would be a kick to attend! ~Betsy


  3. Betsy, Thanks for the arm-chair tour! Fabulous photos! When I first moved to the south, aco-worker asked me if I had ever had pole salat (I heard pork salad) I asked her if it was like ham salad….she said “NO – POKE SALAT!” ………..finally had to have her spell it….so every time I hear poke salat I remember that exchange and laugh…then I immediately go to “Poke Salat Annie” by Elvis….how’s that for for thought processes! Love your blog!


    • Deb, so good to hear from you! I thought about “Polk Salet Annie,” too! This is all making me very curious about what Poke Sallet tastes like, but I’m kind of afraid of it, too, I confess. Really, I think I need to attend a festival where the poke sallet aficionados have perfected the cooking and eating of it. So happy you enjoyed the tour, and the blog. Cheers to you my friend~Betsy


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