“The (Cherokee Heights) Neighborhood Association has been trying for years to bring people together,” said Jo Evelyn Morris, who was instrumental in getting the garden started.
The Cherokee Heights neighborhood is diverse. Defined by the borders of Cherokee Street, Fairground Street and the North Loop (north of the historic Marietta Square), the area includes an historic district, a gated community, single-family homes and duplexes where multiple families live.
“Food and growing vegetables is a great common denominator. We thought if we started a community garden we could draw people in,” she said. “The area where we live is a USDA food desert. There is no grocery store in our area. You have to drive to the grocery store. If you don’t have transportation, your source of food is (fast food).”
Four years ago, Morris began searching for a place for the community garden. She realized that Allgood School (461 Allgood Road in Marietta) where the Head Start program is run is in the middle of the neighborhood.
“Allgood School is the belly button of our neighborhood,” she said.
The large playground located behind the school along Pine Street (across from Pine Street Missionary Baptist Church) appeared to be an ideal spot because the back part of the area was not utilized. Morris contacted Head Start who agreed to the idea along with Marietta City Schools.
Working with groups such has the Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County and Keep Marietta Beautiful, Morris (a Master Gardener) raised money through fundraisers and grants for the garden project. Funds were used for things like removing diseased pine trees on the property, necessary amenities such as water and supplies like tools and a shed.
The community garden has 22 beds where the neighbors in Cherokee Heights can apply for a plot and grow their own vegetables. There is also a children’s area where children can participate including those enrolled in Head Start at Allgood School. Master Gardeners provide assistance on what will grow best.
“We’ve got children involved. We’ve got cross-generations. We’ve got poverty. We’ve gotten a diverse neighborhood together. It’s the perfect place for people to make a difference,” she said. “The community garden) is a really great project. It’s been so positive. It’s been really amazing. We are getting to know our neighbors.”