From 2011 to 2012, bcWORKSHOP partnered with Cliff Temple Baptist Church in North Oak Cliff to improve their community garden, making the garden more functional as well as more habitable for social events and gatherings. bcW was approached by Wes Keyes, the church’s Minister of Missions, for design input on facilities to make the garden more usable and secure.
The Cliff Temple Community Garden was established three years ago, and serves as a part of The Well Ministry, a faith based community group that supports those with severe mental illness. Many members of the Well work a number of plots in the garden and directly contribute to the Goslin Opportunity Center and food pantry of the church. Other plots are tended by gardeners from the Cliff Temple congregation and other local community members.
From September to November 2011, through a number of garden workdays, meetings, and surveys, bcWORKSHOP and garden users documented activities that took place in the garden, identified and prioritized needs to better accommodate these and other desired activities. Specific needs included a toolshed to help organize and secure their tools, a bathroom facility to allow gardeners and guests to spend more time in the garden, and a social space to allow more frequent gatherings and events.
In order to take advantage of the existing natural elements of the site, and to minimize cost, it was proposed to make a number of small interventions in the garden to create nodes of storage and activity that the users could organize around.
Building began in February 2012. A toolshed was constructed and installed in the garden in March. A social space was designed to include: three shade sails to augment the shade from existing trees and shield the social space from rain; a large community table, constructed to form a center piece for the space; and donated limestone assembled into a dry-stacked wall, to allow for seating around the table. These elements were completed in June. The remaining construction is focused on a shed structure which will house a self-contained composting toilet.
With a combination of volunteer labor from the garden and bcWORKSHOP, build-days have been held on multiple Saturdays. Groups of gardeners and bcW volunteers have worked through extreme weather conditions, from mid-30 degree temperatures with high winds to days of over 100 degrees. Rain has also plagued the construction schedule with delays. However, through much hard work, the project will be completed by the end of 2012.
Significant progress was made toward completing the remaining construction in October 2012. As the project reaches this stage of completion, bcWORKSHOP is transitioning from designer and leader of construction efforts, to support for the maintenance and future garden enhancements.