The KELCURT Foundation, KELCURT Farms and Soddy-Daisy Community Library will break ground for Minerva’s Meadow Community Garden on Monday at 3 p.m. at 10848 Dayton Pike in Soddy-Daisy. The location is adjacent to the Soddy-Daisy Wrestling Arena. The groundbreaking follows the signing of a five-year-land lease agreement between the city of Soddy-Daisy and KELCURT Foundation.
“KELCURT Farms, the food security division of KELCURT Foundation, was established earlier this year to combine the agricultural efforts of the foundation along with the food security programs it has been developing over the last few years, “ said Co-Founder and Agriculturalist Curtis Wayne Cecil.
KELCURT Farms volunteers built the first 10-foot by 20-foot hoop house in March of this year, a second hoop house in May and are currently working on building a small farm all in cooperation with private land owners in the Soddy Daisy area.
“This first season we produced 57 lbs.
of cucumbers and 56 lbs. of cherry tomatoes,” said Mr. Cecil. “Ten percent of which we gave to our community partners, the Soddy Daisy Food Bank.”
“With the price of food rising, we understand it is getting harder to feed your family. We also understand that some people don’t have the resources or the land to raise a small garden to offset the price of food.” Mr. Cecil continued, “This is why a community garden is so important. It will provide a safe space to grow food, attract like-minded individuals who love to garden and create a new sense of community for Soddy-Daisy residents.”
A grant from the KFC Foundation, a division of Kentucky Fried Chicken, helped kick start this program and provide the necessary funding to begin phase one of this garden.
“We are honored that KFC understands and supports our vision for food security for our community,” said Kelly Flemings, Education & Outreach coordinator for the SDCL. “Without their support, this project would still just be a great idea.”
Named for the foundation’s blue barn owl mascot, phase one of Minerva’s Meadow will host 12 four-foot by 12-foot raised beds and two handicap-accessible beds. Residents of Soddy-Daisy may apply for a free lease of one of the beds beginning in January 2024. Gardening tools, a water supply, access to the SDCL’s seed library and other necessary resources will be available to the lessees. A grand opening celebration will occur in early Spring 2024 (date to be determined).
A portion of the site will be developed as a market garden planted and maintained by volunteers. Although 10 percent of the produce from this market garden will be donated to the Soddy-Daisy Food Bank, garden lessees will be able to harvest and keep all the food they grow. The site will also host educational and recreational events focusing on gardening, food and the environment, as well as a seating area around a small owl statue.
In an adjoining plot, a memorial pollinator garden will be established. This will provide wildlife a safe habitat featuring native plants while supporting the plants grown in the community garden. It will also be a teaching garden, with educational information available. An additional goal of the pollinator garden is to provide a free field trip option to area schools and homeschool families.
“This is the first project of its kind in our city and we are excited to partner with the City of Soddy-Daisy to bring this project to life. We especially would like to thank our commissioners and our city manager for helping to make this community project possible” Mr. Cecil said.