Feed Communities plants community garden in downtown commercial zone

Feed Fayetteville director Adrienne Shaunfield and volunteers plant vegetables, fruits, and other edibles in landscaping beds at the newly constructed First Security Bank in Fayetteville

Staff photo

Bushes, shrubs, flowers, and greenery. All of these are common to find in the landscaping beds at businesses along College Avenue.

Now, in downtown Fayetteville, one local business is hoping to put that real estate to a better use.

First Security Bank, located at 11 N. College Ave., has partnered with local non-profit Feed Communities to turn their landscaping beds into one of the first commercially-zoned community gardens in Fayetteville.

Volunteers work to plant a new community garden at First Security bank Monday

Staff photo

The bank donated five 15-foot beds at their new bank to the cause, and Feed Communities earlier this week filled them with vegetables, nuts, fruits, herbs, and edible flowers that they’ll harvest regularly and distribute to local community meals and food pantries.

City urban foresters and the University of Arkansas’ Department of Horticulture provided guidance on what to plant.

The initial planting included hazelnuts, raspberries, blackberries, cucumbers, thyme, eggplants, squash, bee balm, tomatoes, and lavender.

Peter Nierengarten, Fayetteville’s director of sustainability, said he hopes more businesses will be inspired by the community garden

“We wanted to be involved because of the visibility of that location,” he said. “We wanted people to see that edible landscaping can be not only functional, but it can be attractive as well.”

Feed Fayetteville director Adrienne Shaunfield said that while her organization plans to make sure the food harvested in the gardens is distributed where it is needed, she wouldn’t be upset if residents who needed it found the garden themselves.

“I’d say that falls well within our mission of reducing food insecurity in Fayetteville,” she said. “We’re excited to be a part of it.”