A sunflower towers over the corner of Circle Drive and West 15th Street in Anniston, at about 12 feet high, welcoming the community to Our Martha’s Garden.
JeanAnn Oglesby, who just turned 70, runs the community garden, which is a program of Interfaith Ministries of Calhoun County. Oglesby recently retired from managing the downtown Anniston farmers market in order to take care of her husband.
“I thought I knew everything,” she said.
She said she had learned the basics, such as when to plant different vegetables, but her first year running a garden had several mishaps.
“You don’t plant your garden until James Spann tells you to,” Oglesby said.
That was three years ago and a different community garden, called Our Garden.
About a year ago, Oglesby needed a new location to plant a community garden, and she knew Interfaith Ministries used to have one.
“She was looking for a place to move her garden, and we were looking for someone to help with our garden,” said April LaFollette, executive director at Interfaith Ministries.
Interfaith’s garden, called Martha’s Garden, was run by Martha Vandervoort, former executive director at Interfaith, who passed away in 2015.
LaFollette said Vandervoort loved gardening.
“Outside of her work here at Interfaith, gardening was her favorite thing to do,” LaFollette said.
A rose in the garden is planted in memory of Vandervoort.
When Oglesby took over the garden, the names were combined to Our Martha’s Garden.
The garden is planted with a variety of fruits and vegetables — herbs, peas, corn, okra, tomatoes, eggplant, blackberries, blueberries. The goal is to provide fresh produce to the community, as well as Meals on Wheels, another program of Interfaith Ministries.
Oglesby said they have had issues with people stealing from the garden.“I think people misunderstand what a community garden is,” Oglesby said. “You need to be a part of it before you reap the fruits of it.”
Oglesby has one main helper, Gregory, who tries “to keep people from coming in and stealing what all we’ve planted.”
Gregory also does most of the heavy labor and has taken care of the garden while Oglesby has taken more time away to care for her husband.
“He’s kept things going for me,” Oglesby said.