Pellissippi State–Pond Gap Elementary community garden needs volunteers

Volunteers are needed at two upcoming Saturday workdays for the Pond Gap Elementary School community garden, a project of Pellissippi State Community College.

Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program has partnered with Pond Gap and the University of Tennessee to install the garden at the elementary school, and now volunteers are needed to help bring shape to the area.

“In November, we’re going to be shaping out the contours of the raised beds throughout the one-sixth-acre garden, and we’ll be adding compost and mulch to the beds,” said Matt Callo. Callo, Outreach AmeriCorps VISTA for the college’s Service-Learning program, is the full-time supervisor for the garden project.

Workday volunteer opportunities are available to all community members, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 and 16. Volunteers can contact Callo for more information or to sign up. Those who can bring their own tools, such as shovels and rakes, for use on the workdays are encouraged to do so.

Work on Nov. 9 will include removing rock, composting and moving pine needle mulch. Work on Nov. 16 will include hilling up raised garden beds to be constructed along the natural contours of the land around Pond Gap. Each of the approximately 20 beds is 30 to 50 feet long.

The community garden serves not only as a volunteer opportunity for Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning students but also as a learning resource for Pond Gap Elementary students and an example of sustainable food choices for the greater community.

“Edible-curricula”-based school programming, community workshops and Service-Learning projects hosted at the garden will foster the skills needed to grow easily accessible and affordable produce for healthy lifestyles. The shared garden-care activities will connect schoolchildren and their families with local volunteers, and everyone will hone his or her gardening skills, make new friends, and even explore ways of making a viable career out of growing food.

Within the garden, Callo plans to grow a “you-pick” strawberry patch, as well as perennial fruits and vegetables such as asparagus, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Annual fruits and vegetables—among them, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers—also will be planted. Fruit trees likely will be part of the garden design, too, and they could include plums and native pawpaws. The majority of the food grown will be featured in the school cafeteria.

For more information about the community garden at Pond Gap Elementary School, contact Matt Callo at macallo@pstcc.edu or 865.296.1792. For more information about Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.