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

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.