Growing vegetables and a strong community in East Cobb since 2009.

American Community Garden Association Article

Debbie Abernathy, a member of Chestnut Ridge Christian Church, had a vision of involving the church and community in an ongoing, outreach project. She identified the focus; feeding those in need. She pulled together a steering committee that envisioned a “Feed the Hungry” Garden and the eventuality of adding additional beds for individuals from the community, who would be asked to contribute 10% of their produce for food donations.

In the Spring of 2009, the steering committee, members of Chestnut Ridge Christian Church decided to set aside a fifth of an acre on an unused portion of the church’s property for a “Square-Foot Garden” to grow fresh, organic vegetables for local food pantries (Center for Family Resources, Marietta First Christian Church Food Pantry, Extension for Women, Transfiguration Church, and MUST Ministries). The goal was to provide fresh produce to assist those who were going through the challenges of a weak economy. The vision also included partnering with others such as The Master Gardeners, Cobb County, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the Cooperative Extension in the hope of expanding interest in gardening and spreading the value of eating healthy, locally grown produce.

Some of our members are new to gardening, but we do have a number of individuals who have been growing vegetables and flowers for years. Our gardeners are from both the community and Chestnut Ridge Christian Church. We are very fortunate to have eight Master Gardeners. Anyone in need of a gardening space is invited to join us as plots become available.

The “Feed the Hungry” garden was started with only 3 plots. Our garden now has 63 leased plots, plus 12 designated specifically for feeding the hungry. So far this year we have donated 686 pounds of fresh produce to feed those in need. In addition we have 3 common beds, 2 asparagus beds, a berry patch, a grape trellis, 2 composting areas, 2 flower beds, and a memorial garden. We’ve also added a children’s garden under the supervision of Julie Franklin.

Currently we have 54 families gardening with us under the leadership of Cobb Master Gardener and church member Marilyn Richter and Cobb Master Gardeners Eileen Silva and Steven Gray. It is our earnest hope that as we help provide food for those in need as well as gardening space for those who wish to garden, we provide the opportunity for building a sense of community among those who participate.

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Some Excitement and Tips for the Garden

If you’ve stopped by the garden recently, you may have met two of our youngest gardeners. Spence, who is so proud of his carrots and beets. Ree, who is our great pollinator gardener. And also some sweet potatoes we just dug up. Love to see young people involved in the garden.

The picture below is of a tomato hornworm. They really do a number on tomato foliage and peppers. Need to destroy these, pesticides wont do it. So check your foliage as you are cleaning out your plots. Spence decided it might be a cool pet and took it home.

tomato hornworm

This is a good time to clean out your plot and put in compost. I would remove some soil and then put in compost. You can put the removed soil by the fence. When you put compost in leave about an inch or more below the top of the box. This will help to contain the water and not run off. Let it sit for a week and then turn it in. This will give time for the micro organisms to work. Usually two to three bags for a large plot and one for the smaller plots works well.

Boy, there are plenty. There is borax in the shed. I sprinkled it around the perimeter of the outside of the boxes and around the perimeter of the inside. Please where gloves and use a spoon or spade.

The last two mornings I have been at the garden the blue handle on the hose bib has been left up. This means water was left on. Remember the 3- 4 rule. As you leave, look back for three gates closed and four handles down.


TV23, Workdays and Other Key Dates

Well, we are the lucky ones.  TV23 will be at the garden this Wednesday, March 16th at 11:00 a.m  as part of the advertisement for the 2016 Master Gardner Tour of Homes and Plant Sale. So if you are not busy please provide us with your presence.  The more the merrier.  Although there is not much to see, we can still be tending our plots.

Other key dates:

March 19th, All Hands Workday, starting at 9.  Do not anticipate it to last longer than an hour.  But it would be a good time to clean your plots, put in some compost and turn your plot.  I would recommend not to plant unless it is veggies like potatoes, lettuce or cool season yet.  We all get excited when this beautiful weather hits, only to have to replant due to a late frost. The old saying, “pay your taxes and then plant.”

April 9th, Blessing of the Garden at 10:00 a.m.   Each year we request Byron Wells, minister of the Chestnut Ridge Christian Church to bless our garden for a year of abundance of harvest.

April 22nd and 23rd, Garden Fair and Plant Sale. Free admission and located at Jim Miller Park.

May 7th, Garden Tour from 10 to 5 pm. Rain or shine and must have a ticket . Tickets are available from me, online, or thru the Cobb extension office.  All gardens including ours are located in east cobb.  You can get more information on this link:

And now a side note.  The other day I was working in the garden and it was so pretty outside. I took a moment to sit on one of the benches and took in the moment. So many things to be grateful for especially that bench at the time.  Thank you David Wold for volunteering to make those benches.  As I sat, I admired how far our garden has come in the last five years. We started with three plots in 2011, and now we have close to 60 leased plots and 13 additional ones for Feed The Hungry. And other things like the children’s area, the grapes, the berries, the asparagus and the common plots. We should all be proud. And then I noticed a few new friends.  I noticed a tiny bluebird in one of the bird houses and  two hawks flying overhead.  My kids used to call me “the hawk” when they were teenagers. They said  I was always swooping down in their business.  So maybe those hawks are swooping overhead to protect our garden from unwanted critters.

But most of all I am proud of the community we have become. People just doing things to help out.  Just to name a few: helping with the sinkhole, cementing birdhouse poles for our bluebirds, building benches for us and the kids, building trellises for other gardeners and bean teepees for the kids, helping someone clean out their plot or  hauling compost/mulch to help one another.  You are all key to our success and I want to thank again for your help.


Chestnut Ridge Christian Church Sinkholes

Written by Lynn Kannepin

Located behind the Chestnut Ridge Christian Church on Post Oak Tritt and Johnson Ferry Road is one of the finest community gardens in East Cobb. No shade and plenty of sunshine makes growing conditions at this garden an ideal place for the novice gardeners as well as for Master Gardeners to display their green thumbs. The garden has 54 leased bed plots where gardeners are encouraged to donate at least 10% of their produce to services such as Must ministries, Marietta First Christian Church Pantry, Center for Family Services and St. Ann’s. In addition there are 12 “Feed The Hungry” plots and 5 large common beds.

With fall crops planted and seeds beginning to sprout, a seemingly small problem in the southwest corner of the garden was noticed. In November it was discovered that there was a sink hole developing beneath several of the plots. Also in the adjacent parking lot a deep indentation in the asphalt indicated the possibilities of another sink hole developing. As the size of the indentures enlarged there became increased concern and it was decided to excavate the area to discover the cause of the problem.

Natural Creations Landscapes was contracted to excavate the two areas and fill them to level. Once the surface dirt was removed a small minor problem quickly developed into a very large major problem. It was discovered that hidden under the surface were huge deposits of discarded cut down trees and construction debris that had been buried there when the church was built more than 30 years ago. The rotting of the buried trees and the decay of the buried trash had caused large voids in the subsurface which created the indentations on the surface.

As the digging continued more debris was uncovered and the holes became increasingly larger. After filling eighteen 30 yard dumpsters and seven tandem dump truck loads with debris and unstable soil the end of the trash piles were reached. It then took twenty-six tandem loads of gravel to fill the holes and one load of clean dirt to top off the garden area. Assisting Natural Creations Landscapes with this monumental project was J.E. Concrete, McTrye Grading and Westmoreland and Sons Trucking and Roll-off. What started out as a simple one day job turned into almost a week’s worth of work.

Blessed with mild temperatures and good weather the project was completed in 6 days, just in time for church service on Sunday when parking space is at a premium. The garden beds that were uprooted for the project were quickly returned to their previous locations on top of the former sink hole. Some of the Master Gardeners replaced the crops that had been temporarily relocated to other beds and once again the Chestnut Ridge Community Garden was back to the picturesque garden it had been. When asked about the disruption of the garden, Marilyn Richter, Head Master Gardener for the Community garden, said that things could not have gone more smoothly. Volunteers moved the affected garden beds to a temporary locations and then returned them once the sink hole project was completed. There was a minimum loss of crops due to the construction. She commented that Brian Brownfield of Natural Creations Landscapes and his workers were very cooperative, easy to work with and did everything they could to expedite the work and complete the project with minimum disruption to the garden. She said that they did an excellent job and their efforts were sincerely appreciated.

The Chestnut Ridge Community Garden is one of the premier Community Gardens in Cobb County. In 2014 more than 400 pounds of produce was distributed to the various services and this year the gardeners have already exceeded that amount even with the sink hole delay.

During the winter months when gardening decreases, the group of Master Gardeners conduct seminars at the church facilities on various topics such as pesticides, canning, soil modification and insect control.

Lease plots at the Chestnut Ridge Community Garden are available to any serious gardeners however space is limited and at a premium. Should anyone be interested in leasing a plot, be advised that there is a waiting list.

Upcoming Workdays and Events –

Well, I am back and have to say Nova Scotia was beautiful and cool weather.

On to the garden:

Committee met this morning and we discussed so many things and planned some events when the weather is cooler. Well, we are moving from warm weather planting to cool planting season. A seed rep brought us many bags of seeds and we have been busy separating them into cool season vs warm season. Since many of the veggies are coming to the end of the season, this is a great time to really clean up and around your plots before you begin planting for cool season. Please take the time to tidy up your plot and the surrounding area. If you will not be planting this fall, let me know and we can use your plot to grow more for the food pantries. We will return it to you in March.

Some dates we discussed:

  • August 18th, Reminder of Amy Whitney’s fall gardening workshop It begins at 6:30 and only goes for about an hour. It is at the Cobb Extension Water Lab. Eileen Silva sent you a flyer last week.
  • Sept. 12th, Saturday from 9 to 11, we will be having a workday. At this time we hope everyone will clean their plots up and around the plots. Also, we will be giving away free seeds. We are also having a plant swap. Many of us will be dividing our perennials at home and bringing them to the garden that day. So if you have any flowers, etc you are planning on dividing please feel free to bring any.
  • Oct. 10th: The church will be having a yard sale as well as burgers and hotdogs. We thought it would be fun if we have a scarecrow building party. We will supply the poles and all you need to do is bring the dressing up and head part. You can make it unique in any way you want. I need to know who will join us in this effort, so I can have enough poles. So send me a note and let me know who will be building a scarecrow.

Other items of interest:

  • Kiosk: The scouts completed the bulletin board/kiosk. The side facing the picnic tables is to post any information for the gardeners such as workshops, and other events. The side facing the parking lot will have a design done in honor of the Memorial Garden.
  • Sink hole near the shed: This is to be fixed. WE do not know yet or the impact on that end of the garden. I will keep you informed.
  • Food Alliance: Our garden has been selected by the Food Wellness Alliance to receive composting tools, bin and compost. There will also be a workshop in Oct that I signed our garden up. So anyone interested can attend. I will send the details later.

That is all for now,


Composting Class + Other Workshops and Activities

Good morning,

Below is a link to a Compost Class on Sept. 29th at the Cobb Extension. I have already registered our community garden. The more gardeners that call the extension and sign up the more chances we can get compost tools, barrels and a load of compost delivered.  I have already registered our community garden so you do not need to go thru the registration. All you need to do is to call the extension and tell them you are with CrossRoads and would like to attend the workshop on Sept. 29th. Deadline to sign up is July 28th. The link below has all the information on the class and it is only for a few hours. It also has the phone number to call and reserve a spot.

Celebrating Horticulture in Cobb County
Posted: 15 Jul 2015 10:34 AM PDT
For the week of July 27 – August 1, our local UGA Extension office has planned several activities to highlight horticulture in Cobb County. The scheduled presentations are free and open to the public.

More information

Supporting Our Pollinators
Monday, July 27, noon—1:00 p.m.
At the Cobb Water Training Lab, 662 South Cobb Drive, Marietta, 30060.

Wednesday, July 29, noon—1:00 p.m.
At the Cobb Water Training Lab, 662 South Cobb Drive, Marietta, 30060.

Planning the Fall Vegetable Garden
Friday, July 31, noon—1:00 p.m.
At the Cobb Water Training Lab, 662 South Cobb Drive, Marietta, 30060.

Family Fun Day at Green Meadows Preserve Park
Saturday, August 1, 8:00 a.m.—2:00 p.m.
Bring a picnic and enjoy all the park has to offer. Bluebird Trail walk begins at 8:00 a.m. Then, activities, classes, and games for kids and adults begin at 10:00 a.m. , at 3780 Dallas Hwy., Powder Springs, 30127.


Hope you are staying cool!

Wanted to let you all know that I will be at the garden tomorrow around 8 a.m.  The scouts are beginning the project for our kiosk. Many scouts will be there and if you get a chance maybe thank them for all the projects they
have done for us so far.
I want to thank those that have worked on their weeds in and around their plots.  WE have more cardboard up by the picnic area inside the fence.  If anyone needs help with their weeds I will be there tomorrow to give a hand. If not I will be working in the Memorial Garden so if you don’t see me that is where I will be.
A special thanks to a few folks:
  1. Cynthia Fine for donating a wheel barrel and cardboard boxes.
  2. Russ Rogers for donating a nozzle with a spring on one of the hose bibs. This saves us a lot of money on replacement of hoses.
  3. Tom Bishop for working with me identifying and capturing our critters. And being patient with me on learning how to set live traps.
  4. Melody Billiot for going out of the way of removing the pest we caught.
  5. Steven Gray for using a non gasoline push mower on the path ways between the plots. Steven does so much and just see things needs to be done and just does it. Kind of like a quiet garden angel.
  6. A very special thanks to the committee that meets each Wednesday morning to weed, taking turns to water, delivering veggies to the food pantries, working with various other groups about gardening, and just being there to lift a hand.
  7. And a great big “thank you” for all your donations.
It makes me happy when I see the community come together.  I heard a speaker say once, “community gardens are 90% community, 10% gardening”  I think we are getting there. Maybe we should plan some fun activities when it gets cooler.
Next week, the kids from VBS will be learning about gardening thru activities that Julie Franklin is heading up. It is scheduled for July 22nd in the evening from 6 to 8. If anyone is interested in lending a hand feel free to come.
I will be sending you a note later today on some things coming up including a workshop on Fall Gardening and a Compost Workshop along with a few other dates.
So as we come almost to the end of our tomatoes, I have been on the hunt for Okra.  Hard to find anymore but I did find some at Walmart. Check the sheet I sent you a few weeks ago on the month by month suggesting for planting in Georgia.  It is quite helpful.
Critter Control:
I feel like Bill Murry from Caddy Shack lately.  So here is what we have found.
  1. Chipmunks:  Went to a class last week and everyone complained of chipmunks. Like it was suggested earlier, pick the tomatoes when they are almost ripe. Leave them on the counter.  We have set some live traps and captured a few and then took them far away to be released. One gentleman mentioned using a rat zapper. It captures them and zaps them dead.  I really don’t like killing anything.  I feel we humans have invaded enough on nature.
  2. Crows: Last night I was at the garden and ran off a few of them. I put some tinsel on some plots hanging it on the wire cages. So if you notice it, that is the reason.  I went to Dollar General, Dollar store and found some silvery rolls of ribbons.  Plan is to have a scarecrow building party in September or you can go and buy an owl at Wal-Mart or just use more tinsel.  Hey, it is Christmas in July.  Also, they tend to go to the really ripe tomatoes. I think red is their favorite color
  3. Rabbits: One plot had its leaves chewed off their beans. Research suggested to put hair around the plant.  So I went to the local beauty salon and they gave me a bag of hair.  It was also suggested to use pet hair. It is the smell that deters them.  And it appears to be working.
  4. Mosquitos:  This might help you more at home. In the class I attended the lady said that catnip is more repellant than products with Deet.  So I can tell you next spring this girls is going to plant some catnip along my back patio.
Well, that is all for now.  Hope you are staying cool.  Soon we will be working on the cool season crops. I love that time for planting.  Thank you all for your donations. With all the challenges we have still donated a great amount to the food pantries.


Challenges in the Garden

Well, the critter damage goes on. We have had some problems with crows attacking some plots. I have notified those who have been affected. Some solutions I researched and were told about were:

  1. Hang Christmas tinsel on the cages. The light weight and shiny material will flutter in the wind. I do not have tinsel but I do have some thin old Christmas garland.
  2. Put up a scarecrow. Since it is close to the end of the season, you can build your own or pick your tomatoes and let them ripen on your counter. I thought in Sept. we could have a build your own scarecrow party. It might be fun to personalize it. I am sure the church would let us use a room and we would supply the materials.

Anyone interested let me know so I can start to collect things from garage sales and thrift stores. Or you could bring your own. I have attached a pdf on how to build a scarecrow.

We have been having problems with some critter taking big bites out of red tomatoes. Well, I have been working with a gardener on a covert operation to trap it and see what it is. We finally got it. It is chipmonks. I want to thank Tom Bishop for working with me on this.

I also stopped Kelly Green and talked to them. They said the chipmonks have been really bad this year. Below is a link on suggestions to control chipmonks -

Also, Pikes is holding a class tomorrow at 9 a.m on critter control. I plan to attend and hopefully some of you will as well. I will also be at the garden early tomorrow til class starts to water, and hopefully help some of you weed. Some have done an outstanding job since the last note, others have not tackled their plots as all. Please, let us be a community and have respect for one another in keeping the weeds down around our plots.

Aside from all the challenges, we have an abundance of produce we have been delivering. Again, I want to express my gratitude to all of you for your kindness in all your donations.

If you are up at the garden, please drink a lot of water, use a hat and try to not go when it is the hottest part of the day.

I will be sending out another note on some events coming up to prepare for fall gardening. Most people enjoy this more than summer gardening. Seems like less bugs, predators and cooler days. Hard to believe the time has gone by so fast and we are starting to think of fall gardening. Use the handout I sent to you last month to plan your monthly produce

Take care and stay cool. I will continue to play the Bill Murry of critters and keep you informed.



Overall Garden News

Well, we sure have had our abundance of produce despite all the challenges. We are averaging about 30 lbs per week. And a big thanks to all especially since we lost all our squash and the beans are completed.

The committee met last week and I wanted to share all the things and concerns we shared:

  1. Weeds both in the common areas and around the plots. How do we motivate gardeners to keep both their plots and the area around their plots clean? Just a reminder we all signed a set of guidelines that everyone who rented a plot agreed to keep an area two feet around their plots clean. While most have done an outstanding job, others definitely have room for improvement. At the end of this coming week, we will inspect again and begin a one on one plan with a post in your plot. Also pull the weed around your pots and if you are not using them please pull the weeds inside the pots as well. This fall we will be placing plastic under the pots with mulch to help reduce this. However, we do understand that with it being summer, some may be out of town. We also understand that there could be a crisis or circumstances that is prohibiting from accomplishing weeding. Please, please let me know. We are here to help. Discard the weeds in paper bags found in the shed and not in the compost bins. Keep in mind we pride our community garden and many outsiders come to see our garden. Let’s take pride not only in our produce but in the ownership we have as part of the community.
  2. Produce not being picked. Please, let us know if you are not going to be able to pick your produce and you want us to. So much produce needs to be picked and my fear is it will go to waste. We can bring it to the food pantries.
  3. What to plant next..Below is a link to a document on what to plant each month in Georgia. I found this extremely helpful. You can print it out as well and keep as a reference. Here is a good publication for what vegg to plant when from the UGA extension: Vegetable Garden Calendar | Publications | UGA Extension
  4. Childrens area. This fall we will be focusing on putting in more pollinator plants to attract bees and butterflies. Bees are great for pollination.
  5. Other community projects coming: Two scout projects are underway. These include benches, flower boxes and a bulletin board. Garden Bible study using elements in the garden from July 20th to the 24th.

Hope your summer is going well.