Charlotte couple advocate for growth in sustainability
|COURTESY DYLAN WOODS|
|Dylan Woods raises bees with his wife Georlean at the Woods Friendly Community Garden in Charlotte.|
As flowers begin to bloom and spring sets in, Dylan and Georlean Woods’ backyard becomes a thriving focal point for the community.
The Charlotte couple are creating change with a grassroots movement in their one-acre vegetable garden. The couple registered their land under the name of Woods Friendly Community Garden with the slogan “A garden is a beautiful work of the heart”. In turn, the two hope to become the pulse of partnerships seeking access to fertile soil.
Individuals, families and groups are welcome in their domain to use the garden beds to grow fresh food. Dylan and Georlean both have deep roots in the South, which prompted them to share an opportunity to change the course of the city’s food legacy.
“I started gardening when I was 6 years old on our family farm in Mississippi. My grandmother, Annibell Sanders, owned acres of land for gardening and herbs. She taught all of her grandchildren the importance of being self-sufficient and eating your own food, ”Georlean Woods said. “The life lesson of giving back to nature what nature gives us has always marked me. I started a community garden to teach others the importance of eating healthy foods to support a healthy lifestyle, to build social connections and a greater sense of community.
Dylan Woods learned from his great-grandmother, Minnie Moore, who owned farmland in Jones County, eastern North Carolina. Farming has become a tradition passed down from his grandfather, Elijah Woods Sr., to his father, Elijah Woods Jr., to him.
However, they know that for many families this story does not exist. And circumstances can make open ground farming a hindrance, which is why they started to market grow bags, a large plastic bag filled with growing medium and used for harvesting plants such as tomatoes or other salad crops.
The growing medium is usually based on organic material without soil such as peat, coconut fiber, composted green waste, composted bark or composted wood chips, or a mixture thereof.
Planting is undertaken by first laying the bag flat on the soil or bench of the growing area, then cutting access holes in the top surface, into which the plants are inserted. Only planting and watering are required by the user. The process makes the fresh-to-the-table options more accessible.
Friendly Woodland Community Garden is listed as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, meaning they work exclusively for for charitable, religious and educational purposes. They offer gardening classes to the community at large in the hope of solving food insecurity. But in addition to teaching how the planting process works, antlers also play an active role in pollinating their crops with their own bees.
“Bees play a role in all aspects of our ecosystem. They support all growth of trees, flowers and other plants, ”said Dylan Woods. “Bees are at risk of extinction due to the loss of their natural habitat from harmful pesticides and new construction. So I decided to become a beekeeper to help save the bees. We depend heavily on bees for our food supply chain. ”
Bees contribute nearly $ 20 billion to the value of agricultural production in the United States. To prove it, Dylan Woods documented his journey to becoming a certified beekeeper on the garden’s YouTube channel. While studying for the state exam, Georlean looked at the medicinal healing that honey can create.
“Honey contains nutrients, it has a high quality of antioxidants, which help lower blood pressure, promote burning or healing of wounds, and also works to suppress coughs,” Georlean Woods said.
However, together they instilled the importance of holistic health options in young people starting with their grandson, Amari Malik Alexander. At only 4 years old, he is proudly found helping to maintain the family grounds.
“Our overall goal is to educate people on how to be self-sufficient on their own property,” said Dylan Woods.
As the Woods continue to expand, they hope to partner with schools and organizations that serve the homeless in Charlotte. Those interested in finding an alliance can visit their WFCGarden.org website.