Odessa Street Organic Garden
Sterling is among the few West Greenville neighborhoods that are in what is called a "healthy foods desert." Access to healthy foods are limited within these neighborhoods with a monopoly held by small restaurants, gas stations, and convenience stores that sell high fat, high caloric, high fructose corn syrup, fried treats, snacks, and meals. A cultural staple for many residents (of all socioeconomic backgrounds and across racial lines), these treats and meals do not make for a healthy diet but in fact may contribute to the high instances of chronic illness, obesity, and poor health in Sterling and other similar communities. It is time to turn that tide! St. Francis has its own Community Garden located on the corner of Easely Bridge Road and Andrew's street on our hospital campus. However, thanks to the creative process of the Sterling Phoenix League, another community garden has been built on vacant land within the actual heart of Sterling!
Location: 106 Odessa Street, Greenville SC
The garden is on land owned and contributed by a Sterling Alumni and participant of the Sterling Seniors on the Go senior program (another program created as a result of the Sterling Phoenix League process), Peggy Baxter. Peggy is a major advocate for the senior citizen community in Greenville County and saw this as an opportunity to take land she grew up on and owns, and have it transformed into a healthy resource. The garden currently contains 8 raised beds thanks to the diligent volunteer support of local church groups, the seniors from Sterling and nearby communities, some resident volunteers, youth, and a few donations from supportive organizations. Peggy was recently recognized by Greenville Forward as a 2010 Hero Next Door!
This garden is quickly becoming a true model for sustainable community gardens that should be grassroots in nature, owned, lead, and operated by local residents rather than outside partners.
Future plans are to more fully landscape the property to make it a truly attractive and healthy site. However, much support is still needed to “seed” the development of this garden to make this a truly impactful community and sustainable resource:
- Donated tools & materials (gardening gloves, weed eaters, lawn mower, compost tumbler/boxes, garden hose head, plants for landscaping/aesthetics, fencing, paint and/or new surfacing/siding for tool shed, weed and tree clippers, garden sheers, benches/picnic tables, education/demonstration tables, wood for raised beds)
- Landscaping support to do a mini “park” with seating, meeting space, flowers, plants, lawn art/sculptures
- Signage support to with garden logo/name and art work (resident/youth/senior art) to be displayed.
- On-going volunteer support for plantings and other projects.
Future plans also include an Urban Farm headquartered in Sterling on acreage of vacant land that will provide not just fresh produce but jobs to the local economy of West Greenville! Plans are to create multiple farms, relationships with gardeners, farmers, and identify a central commercial location to sell produce to the West Greenville area!
For more information on the Odessa Street Garden Initiative, contact Peggy Baxter at 864-313-5155 or email at PBaxter6SC@aol.com.
*Key fact: Peggy began working with the Phoenix League in 2008 primarily focused on Seniors and was a key participant in creating Seniors on the Go! It wasn't until almost a year later did she discover she could contribute even further her time and treasure by helping create Sterling's first Organic Garden. The idea sprouted at a Phoenix League meeting in February 2010...the rest as they say, is history!