Local Non-Profit To Open 1st Ever Community Garden In Soddy-Daisy

  • Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Winning a grant from the KFC Foundation called the Kentucky Fried Wishes Grant, KELCURT Foundation worked with Soddy-Daisy City officials to find land that would serve as the city’s very first community garden and they are inviting the community to join them at the grand opening this Saturday at 11 a.m. The community garden is located at 10848 Dayton Pike in Soddy-Daisy.

“Food security is vital to the physical and mental health of individuals, families and the community,” said Curtis Wayne Cecil, president of KELCURT Foundation. “With the cost of living and the high price of groceries, families are strapped to make ends meet.” 

Mr. Cecil said that while hosting agricultural classes he teaches at the Soddy-Daisy Community Library, some patrons complained that they live in mobile homes and apartment buildings with no real place to even garden and grow food.

“By having a place to grow fresh produce, families can supplement their food needs with healthy, homegrown options,” he said.

Burt Johnson, city manager of Soddy-Daisy, helped locate property beside the wrestling arena and leased a plot of that land to KELCURT. The city then leveled the plot and using Mr. Cecil’s design, drilled holes for the fence posts.

Over three weeks, volunteers came out and helped build the 576-square foot area, complete with 12 all-access beds, measuring 12 feet by four feet, and two wheelchair-accessible beds measuring four feet by two feet.

“We wanted to create a space to bring families and the community together,” Mr. Cecil said. Using the space, he said, "We wanted to combine art and functionality to the space and incorporated wind sculptures, as well as a fireplace for meetings and social gatherings.

“In the next phase, we will provide acrylic frames to our local schools and ask them to design and paint a unique ‘stained-glass art piece’ that will later be hung on the fence posts surrounding the entire area with local art.”

One of the bed leasers is using this opportunity to spend time with her granddaughter, passing on gardening skills that have been in her family for generations, while others are simply trying to raise nutritious food for their own families. 

Free seeds are available to all patrons through the Soddy-Daisy Community Library, as well as access to free agriculture classes held onsite. In addition, other events are being planned for the community garden, including art classes, yoga, story-times and a luau. The classes will be open to the general public.

Each bed is sponsored by a company or individual in the community to help pay the water bill, mowing services and maintenance of the property. Sponsors include Tennessee Valley Authority, Team Scheeres Legacy Fund, Woodmen Life, and Lindsey Davis in honor of Don & Kathy Maxwell, her grandparents. Sponsorship opportunities are still available to individuals, businesses and organizations.

This first location is a pilot program and information gathered from it will allow for future locations throughout Hamilton County. Additional plans for the property include an educational pollinator garden where residents and school groups can learn about flowering plants and the environmental impact of pollinators. Fruit trees are also planned, providing free access to apples, peaches and pears.

The community and press are invited to the ceremony. For additional information about the KELCURT Community Garden, the KELCURT Foundation, contact Mr. Cecil at founders@kelcurtfoundation.org or 423-800-2367.

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