by Lauren Andrews | Staff Writer
Gardening. Such a simple task with a moderately consistent outcome: vegetables, fruits, herbs, and all the flowers one can imagine. There’s always a basic theme that comes to mind when one considers gardens and their impact, but one particular garden in Clinton is challenging this image each day. The community garden on Bell Street has hopes for an outcome that surpasses the tangible and delicious gifts that the garden bestows all in the community.
On September 16, the fourth annual Gathering at the Garden event will be held at the community garden. Beginning at 6 pm and lasting until dark, all are welcome to attend the block party. With guests and food from sponsors, local food from the Garden Angels, and lots of stories about the history of Laurens County, there will be much to see, hear, and eat!
According to Dr. Kendra Hamilton, the garden is meant to bring the community together.
“The garden is an attempt to bring people together,” Hamilton said. “It’s not really about growing food, it’s more about growing community.”
Like many counties in South Carolina, Laurens County has a history that includes racial tension and distrust among black and white citizens. This idea is almost the central theme of the inspiration for the garden. The original concept comes from The Nat Fuller Feast Committee which commemorates the large celebration and temporary racial unity that occurred at historical figure Nat Fuller’s dinner. The idea of this dinner was to give South Carolinians a positive event to remember following the Civil War, in contrast to the destruction which was a byproduct of the war.
Unlike Nat Fuller’s dinner, though, the garden hopes to target people from all social classes and economic statuses. The garden provides an opportunity for people from within the community to come together, regardless of race or other social boundaries, and share something which they can all benefit from. The garden also shows people who may feel neglected or as if they don’t matter within the community that there are people who care for them and want to help or look out for them.
“This is my husband and I’s third community garden,” Hamilton said. “We have done these community gardens ever since the 2008 financial downturn. There were a lot of people who were hungry. I went through a period where I was out of work, but I knew that I would never go hungry because I knew how to grow food. But then I thought, ‘What about all the people who don’t have that knowledge?’”
This thinking sparked Hamilton’s pursuit of the idea of a community garden in Clinton, and the effects are quite visible. The garden has definitely started to impact those around it in the way which Hamilton has hoped for. The effect of the garden is shown in the actions of the citizens in the area. Although most of their efforts are indirect, they still demonstrate a shift in attitude among the community.
“People stop and shout out to us all the time, just to say, ‘Thank you for what you’re doing,’” Hamilton said. “They also don’t let people steal from us. We have wood sitting around and they keep an eye out and don’t let people steal. So although it’s not as active and people haven’t signed up for times or boxes yet, it’s still clear that the garden matters to people and that they’re happy that it’s there.”
Don’t miss the chance to be part of the community and enjoy a healthy, yet tasty, dinner Wednesday at 6. The garden is located across from the Friendship AME church on South Bell Street.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article had the wrong date for the event.