HUNTERSVILLE – Residents continue to volunteer their time and efforts to beautify the Midas Spring Water Community Garden.

Mayor Jill Swain and Huntersville Rental Owner Russell Hale, first planted radishes, beets and carrots and tilled the garden at the end of April.

Others have donated seeds, wood and mulch, as well as added various herbs, Brussels sprouts and lamb ears, plants known for their thick, wooly leaves.

On May 17, Swain, Hale and other volunteers began planting rows of watermelon, cucumbers and zucchinis. As the planters moved mulch and planted seeds, John Marek gave a demonstration on square foot gardening to enhance the community garden at Midas.

Marek is a certified garden instructor who serves the Lake Norman region.

A 4-by-4 square foot garden uses raised beds framed in wood, eight cubic feet of unique soil that does not initially contain weeds and a grid system to grow 16 different plants, vegetables or fruits.

Square foot gardens conserve more space and uses less than 50 percent of water than that of traditional gardening, Marek said.

The square foot garden box adds aesthetics to the Midas Community Garden.

“Square foot gardens are designed to be attractive,” he said. “One of the principles of SFG is that the gardens can be located close to the house because they are an attractive addition to the landscape.”

Square foot gardening promotes a healthy lifestyle and encourages outdoor and physical activity within the community.

“It is great to teach kids about sustainability and healthy living,” he said. “People with disabilities who cannot bend down easily can still garden with this technique because the beds are raised.”

Marek planted squash, tomatoes and marigolds in his square foot garden. He plans to grow lettuce and hot peppers along the back.

In addition to learning ways for improvement and efficiency, the planters also work together as a team to make the community garden a better place. 

Swain recently built a bean teepee from stakes in the surrounding woods to make a growing plant.

“The teepee shows kids the garden is something nice,” Swain said. “It really gives the garden personality.”

The community garden is a place not only for adults but also children to meet and connect with one another. 

“We wanted kids to get involved in the garden to play, learn and plant,” Hale said.

Huntersville resident Alisia Bergsman started working at the community garden back in 2011 when she heard about it from the mayor.

She assisted Swain and other planters with weeding and the watermelon planting.

“The garden is a great resource for members in the community,” she said. “A lot of historical aspects have been lost and Midas is a place to get the community together. It is more than just planting.”

Bergsman said being a part of the community garden has allowed her to meet a lot of new people, as well as people she has dealt with in her past.

“Gardening is done better with a group,” she said. It makes it more productive. I really like the social aspect.”

She is excited to assist with future projects, like the sunflower kids garden and more planting.

“We live in such a small world,” Swain said. “You meet at a place like Midas and end up meeting and working with people you once knew.”