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Community Gardens: Benefits You Should Know

There’s nothing like a fresh off the vine, homegrown tomato from the garden. Warm and super-juicy, there’s nothing quite like it. Sure, the grocery stores have tomatoes available all year-round, but more often than not, those “‘maters” pale in comparison to ones you can grow yourself.

As delicious as all homegrown vegetables are, the hard work to construct and maintain a garden often outweighs the benefits. The challenge of it all is daunting, so most people (sadly) do without.

But not so, if you live at Harbor Club on Lake Oconee!

Our recent addition of The Grove offers several great amenities, one of which we are very proud of -- our new Victory Garden. It is a community garden that has easily accessible raised beds and an automatic watering system. These things, in addition to our avid gardeners, have helped contribute to the success of our plantings. However, fresh veggies aren’t the only benefit of the Victory Garden. There are many advantages of a community garden, such as:

  • Adding beauty to the neighborhood
  • Bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together
  • Motivating people to be more active (reaching, digging, planting, weeding, etc.)
  • Increased opportunities to meet new neighbors
  • A better sense of community stewardship
  • An increase in community spirit
  • Quick, easy access to highly nutritious foods
  • Reducing stress for both gardeners and visitors alike
  • Creating a sense of wellness and belonging

Considering the fact that ours is a Southern Living Inspired Community, all of the above are things we strive to provide for each resident of Harbor Club. We embrace all the makes our community friendly, fun, healthy and rewarding. Whether you are a Master Gardener or just interested in learning more about this fun and interesting hobby, we encourage our residents to get involved with the gardening club. Contact Paul Davis, our community gardener organizer, to learn more. Not a resident of Harbor Club? That’s ok -- we’re happy to give potential residents a tour of the garden and so much more. In the meantime, get inspired with this tasty recipe that highlights delicious summer veggies easily grown in Georgia:

Summer Harvest Ratatouille

Serves 10

Ratatouille, a traditional French vegetable dish of eggplant, bell peppers, onions, summer squash, and tomatoes, is an ideal side dish to serve with grilled or roasted fish or chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 3 bell peppers, assorted colors, seeded, cored and cut into thick wedges
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch slices
  • 2 medium yellow squash, cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch slices
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch slices
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 cup pitted Niçoise or other black olives
  • 5 large tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), seeded and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped marjoram or oregano
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or to taste

Method:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place peppers and eggplant on one sheet, squash, and zucchini on the second sheet. Roast vegetables, turning them once halfway through cooking and switching trays top to bottom and front to back, until browned, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool vegetables slightly, then coarsely chop.

Meanwhile, combine broth and olives in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a heavy pot and add tomatoes, onion, garlic and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until tomatoes are very soft, about 20 minutes.

Add roasted vegetables and marjoram to pot; cover and simmer, stirring once or twice, until flavors blend, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and vinegar; cook 5 minutes more.

Nutritional Info:

Per Serving: 80 calories (10 from fat), 1.5g total fat, 90mg sodium, 15g carbohydrates, (5 g dietary fiber, 8g sugar), 3g protein.

Recipe courtesy of Whole Foods

For more great recipes, check out Southern Living’s Summer Casserole Recipes That Make the Most of Your Farmers' Market Finds.

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Monday, 18 December 2017

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