Parking Lot Farm
- Written by Joel
I can still remember the first time I steered my truck onto the lot at 2401 East Main Street. I had been looking around for vacant lots in Ridgedale and the property owner, who was also the president of the Ridgedale Neighborhood Association, had told me that if Fair Share wanted to start a community garden somewhere that had high visibility and would be easy for folks to find, I should take a look at the large lot he owned at the corner of East Main Street and Watkins. "But most of it is asphalt." My first thought when I got out of the truck and walked around was, "This is huge... And it's perfect!"
One thing I like to tell folks is that so long as you have enough soil for the roots to play in, a way to water when you need to, and plenty of sun during the day, you can grow food anywhere. On an asphalt parking lot at the corner of Main and Watkins we would set out to prove that to be true!
And we have! Many people who come out and walk through the "East Main Street Community Garden" never realize that there is a parking lot just a little deeper beneath their feet. Some people have asked how we got rid of the asphalt, but we didn't; we covered it with a thick layer of wood chips donated by the City of Chattanooga. We spent many a Saturday morning spreading out dozens and dozens of yards of wood chips! A modest grant from the Hamilton County Health Department "Step One" program funded the purchase of topsoil and wire fencing. Long raised growing beds were built up in rows side by side over the woodchips, and a long row of compost bins made from reclaimed wooden pallets formed the front fence-line of the garden.