Dig In to Gardening, Fresh Food and Community

By Michele McKinley, Advocates for Health in Action (AHA). Photos courtesy of Cary’s Pocket Community Garden.

Cary, NC – With spring just around the corner, it’s time to hit the dirt. In the garden, that is.

Dig In

Whether you’re a new or seasoned gardener, you may want to check out Dig In, the third annual event all about starting and maintaining community and backyard gardens in the Triangle.

Advocates for Health in Action (AHA) presents Dig In on Saturday, March 10, 8:30 am-12:00 pm at Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh. Dig In features urban farming experts, hands-on workshops and booths for anyone who wants to build and maintain a community garden or gain expertise for success in his or her home garden.

Registration ($10 per person) is open online at www.advocatesforhealthinaction, but space is limited.

What are community gardens?

Community gardens are urban, suburban and rural gardens where members grow food in a shared garden plot or in their own individual garden plots, depending on a given garden’s structure. Community gardens are found in neighborhoods, schools, churches, workplaces, hospitals, community centers and youth centers. Gardens provide access to fresh, healthy produce and enhance a sense of community and connection to the environment—they come in many shapes and sizes!

In and Around Cary

Cary, Morrisville and Apex are all home to community gardens (plus a variety of school gardens), and many are starting their 2012 planning now and invite new members to join them.

  • Cary’s Pocket Community Garden
  • Cary Senior Center Community Garden (for gardeners 55+),
  • Gracious Harvest Community Garden
  • Whole Foods Market-Cary
  • Morrisville Community Garden
  • Simple Gifts Community Garden (Apex)

Many community gardens in the area participate in programs where gardeners donate extra produce from their harvest to area food pantries and organizations such as the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle through the Plant a Row for the Hungry program.

Gardening Know-How

“Featuring urban farming experts, Dig In is a tremendous resource to gardeners and those who want to grow healthy, local foods for their communities and their families,” commented Laura Aiken, interim director of AHA and director of regional community relations for WakeMed Health & Hospitals. “Community gardens are increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” Aiken continued. “Schools, churches, neighborhoods, community groups and other nonprofits can capitalize on the excitement around sustainable food systems, connect people with where their food comes from and promote environmentally friendly living.”

Dig In includes workshops are offered in two tracks: Track 1: Starting a Community Garden and Track 2: Taking Your Garden to the Next Level.

Track 1 workshops include starting a community and school gardens, composting, and raised beds and container gardens. Track 2 workshops include making money from gardens, preserving foods, engaging youth and seniors in the garden, keeping gardens growing.

Plus, all registrants will take part in a hands-on cooking lesson from Whole Foods Market-Cary and Whole Foods Market-Raleigh (Wade Ave.) about how to enjoy the bounty of the garden. In addition, a variety of educational booths about gardening, local food, composting and more are available at Dig In.


Advocates for Health in Action (AHA) fosters and supports community efforts to make healthy eating and physical activity the way of life in Wake County. AHA is a group of more than 50 diverse organizations and community members who are shaping the environment throughout Wake County to ensure available and affordable access to healthful foods and physical activity for all community members.