Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Advocate: Garden would promote health

MARATHON -- Sharyn Flint likes to grab the bull by the horns. She's not content to sit back and wait for others to get things done.

Her most recent effort is a proposal to build a community garden on the property that will house Marathon's new City Hall. She was to pitch the idea to the City Council during its Tuesday, Aug. 13, meeting, which took place after press time.

"It's about education and reconnecting with the food source," she told the Free Press last week. "We need to get nutrition back into our diet and teach our children about healthy eating."

Flint has partnered with other Marathon residents and groups, including Food For Thought, to develop a plan that would ultimately transform a plot of land into a community garden that provides healthy, organic food to the city's residents.

Every project needs start-up funding, which is why Flint entered the idea for the garden in an online contest sponsored by Bota Box Wines. The company packages their California wines in 100 percent recycled fiber boxes that claim to have a smaller carbon footprint than traditional glass bottles.

Flint's submission won $1,000 in the first round of the "Random Acts of Greenness" contest on Facebook. The garden project stands to win another $1,500 if it can earn enough votes in the second round of competition.

"That money could buy a lot of dirt," Flint said with laugh.

Ultimately, her plan calls for vertical gardens to teach people how to maximize space and grow food, regardless of where they live.

Flint also wants to plant an area to educate people about the dangers of eating produce grown from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, as well as what she calls a "garbage garden."

"For the garbage garden, we'll have kids bring something from their fridge that looks like trash and have them plant it. When they come back a month later, they'll see a flourishing, green plant that can produce more food," Flint said.

She's passionate about changing the way people, especially children, think about food and where it comes from.

"When that carrot in your fridge turns black, don't throw it out. Plant it. It may not produce more carrots, but it will go to seed and you can plant those seeds to grow new carrots," she said.

The tentative plan is to offer residents three levels of involvement with the garden. One can volunteer in the garden in exchange for a specific amount of food grown, lease a 4-by-8-foot plot for $100 a year and grow one's own food or become a sponsor and pay a specific amount each month in exchange for a specific amount of food grown.

Plans call for rain water collection through the use of cisterns and composting of dead vegetation so that nothing goes to waste. Ultimately, Flint hopes to see a butterfly garden and perhaps even a bee box to lure the pollinators.

"Without bees, the future of humanity is uncertain," she said.

To learn more, visit the community garden's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MarathonCommunityGarden.

To cast a vote for this project and help Flint earn another $1,500 in prize money, go to https://www.facebook.com/botabox/app_451684954848385.

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