Apex Community Garden Faces Uncertain Future

Produce at Simple Gifts Community Garden

Simple Gifts Community Garden finds itself at a crossroads, but the Apex garden remains undeterred in its mission.

The future for the garden at its current location has been uncertain since the April 2020 death of Jeanne Hack, whose 10-acre property has been home to the project since its inception in 2009. Still, organizers are committed to begin another spring planting there in March as they mull over long-term options.

“We’re going full steam ahead with plans for gardening this year until we know differently,” said Anne Harrison, the garden manager .

Hack, a longtime member at Apex United Methodist Church, the garden’s sponsor, offered her land as a base of operations since the beginning. Organizers knew, though, that the agreement secured a place for the garden only as long as Hack was alive, Harrison says.

“She just said it seemed like such a waste for her to look out the window and see that empty field. She was very happy for us to use it for her lifetime,” Harrison said. “She never promised us anything beyond that, so I have tried to make sure that I say that to anybody that is interested in this.”

Ideally, garden leaders would like the garden to stay where it is at 1075 S. Hughes Street, where years of hard work has paid dividends.

“We’ve amended that dirt for 11 years, so it’d be lovely if we could stay,” Harrison said.

Organizers have ideas about how to keep it there, proposing to the Town Council that Apex purchase the land and turn it into an urban eco park formed around the garden. Wildlife is plentiful on the property, and Harrison says the infrastructure for such a park already exists, with a pond, garden and pre-Civil War era buildings that could serve a variety of purposes.

A scenic walking trail could be added around the property, where the Simple Gifts Community Garden is located.

In the area, a large hill could accommodate an outdoor amphitheater, and Harrison suggests adding a scenic walking trail around the property.

For now, the land is not yet on the market, though Hack’s children are in favor of selling to Apex for the park “if it can work out for all parties involved,” Harrison said. Discussions with the Town about the possibility of purchasing the property are in early development.

Herbs are also grown at the garden, as well as fruit and vegetables.

“The community garden is still in early stages as far as exploring options,” Assistant Town Manager Shawn Purvis wrote in an email. “Several residents have brought this to Council’s attention and they have asked staff to investigate options. Staff is still looking into it. We will be having multiple budget workshops and discussions soon and it is possible that this topic could be brought up during that time.”

If the garden cannot stay where it is, organizers are looking for locations where the garden could move.

No matter what, the garden will continue its mission of fostering community in Apex and producing hundreds of pounds of organic crops annually that benefit local food banks.

The garden is looking for volunteers to help plant a cornucopia of vegetables for the spring, including peas, potatoes, cabbage, kale, broccoli, carrots and an assortment of lettuces. The garden will hold volunteer days each Saturday from March until Thanksgiving, with Tuesday evening hours starting up for the year after Daylight Saving Time.

For more information about Simple Gifts Community Garden, visit simplegiftsgarden.wordpress.com.

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