Welcome to the Apollo Beach Community Forest Garden! First steps

Dear Apollo Beach Community Forest Garden members,

After our Open House event last week many new community members have rented plots and become part of the exciting endeavor of the AB Community Garden. Thank you!
We have some general information for you. 

Please visit the Community Garden Forum on the Club’s website for updates and volunteer tasks as well as useful information about the Community Garden. We recently posted about places to buy organic vegetable starts and seeds as well as local nurseries to visit. 

Please follow the Apollo Beach Garden Club Facebook Page for events, meetings and more, especially if you recently became a member of the Club, too! 

Please join the Apollo Beach Community Forest Garden Facebook Group if you are part of this social media platform. This is a group for all Community Garden members to share what they are growing, offer seeds, ask for advice and document their experience. Please remember, even though the community garden was created by the Apollo Beach Garden Club it is its own entity and works through the engagement of its members. Any communication with the Club should happen through the Community Garden Coordinator, at the moment this position is taken by Raleigh Barnes. We are currently looking for an additional moderator for this Facebook group, if you would like to take up this position please write a direct email to the Community Garden Coordinator. 

If you do not have Facebook don’t worry important information from the Community Garden Coordinator or the Apollo Beach Garden Club Board is always shared by email, too. 

Please remember to log your volunteer hours in the Volunteer Log. The Coordinator has created this page to keep track of how many volunteer hours have been invested in the construction and creation of the Apollo Beach Community Forest Garden. This will help our organization demonstrate our community engagement and effort. This tool will also allow you to show how you have contributed with community service inside the garden, which you agreed with when signing the raised bed lease agreement.

If you are interested in making any additions to the food forest in the Community Garden we ask that you please write a concise email directly to the Community Garden Coordinator Raleigh Barnes apollobeachgardenclub@gmail.com and explain:

– Where you would like to locate the plant
– What kind of plant it is
– Where has it come from
– Which are its growing conditions and care
– A brief explanation of why you would like to share this plant with the community
– Any remarks or notes you feel are necessary

Only with this information will the Coordinator be able to approve your addition. The Club and Community Forest Garden have to meet certain guidelines as well as plans previously approved by Hillsborough County who is partnering in the creation of the AB Community Forest Garden. The Coordinator’s task amongst others is to ensure that any addition to the food forest or community garden will be successful and not harm anyone or inconvenience fellow members. The Coordinator will also discuss your proposal with the Apollo Beach Garden Club Board to ensure it is in everyone’s best interest. Similarly if there are any improvements you feel can be made in the garden please communicate these to the Coordinator. As we are a Community Garden we envision that members will take initiative and take action. Finally, any addition made to the Community Forest Garden outside of your own rented bed is to be enjoyed by everyone as a community planting. 

Support local nurseries and get your veggie garden going!

At the Apollo Beach Garden Club and Community Forest Garden we are all about Community. This means supporting local businesses which in time benefits the local community and you!

Many businesses have been affected by the pandemic. We know many of you are getting ready to plant your fall gardens. Why not respond to this need exercising conscious support for your community? We encourage you to visit the following nurseries to purchase vegetable starts and plants for your plot and homegarden.

Remember to make sure your starts are Non-GMO as this is part of the deal you committed to when sining the lease agreement for your plot. Also pay attention to the fertilizer used by nurseries, most of the time it will not be organic. If you purchase a plant that has slow release granules in the pot you can discard the soil and re-pot this plant in an organic substrate to ween it off.

Below you will also find a list of seed companies where you can purchase organic, heirloom and non-gmo seeds. Organic always means Non-GMO. However, we recommend asking fellow gardeners, garden clubs and community gardens for seeds as every gardener will help in any way they can. This is the way of the gardener! (The underlined seed companies are the most recommended) Another tip is looking on social media platforms for local seed libraries and exchanges.

August-September volunteer tasks

The community garden currently needs work in the following areas.

  • Keep adding mulch around the ADA Beds and entrance area, this is where we have the most foot traffic and where mulch gets compressed the most.
  • In the small triangular space in front of the banana circle and next to the future meeting space weeds need to be pulled and cardboard laid. Then cover with mulch.
  • Plastic pieces and trash need to be picked up and put in the trash.
  • Unleased beds can be filled up with more soil.
  • Weeding around trees can be done. Be mindful of the tree’s roots, they are still young. These areas need to be weeded by hand and carefully. Another option is laying cardboard around the trees and covering with mulch without removing weeds. Trees can be surrounded with log rings.
  • If you find or have any oak logs please bring them to the garden.
  • Mowing and weed-whacking whenever grass gets too high. Grass is not our enemy, as we mow and leve the grass clippings on the ground the soil is being build. The more shade and foot traffic we have the less grass will grow. During the colder months the growth rate of the grass will slow down or almost come to a stop. That may give us a head start. Don’t tire yourselves out by engaging in a battle against grass the fact that it crept in is a normal process. We have to work with it and not against it.

Thank you!

A few updates and reminders for August


In the past week the Community Garden members together with volunteers finished covering the beds that have not yet been leased to avoid any grasses growing in them.

The soil on the south side has been moved and the space where the cement slab for the meeting space will be installed by the County has been marked out with pink string.

The grass has been mowed and this will continue to be the strategy we use to keep it at bay until we slowly but surely lay cardboard section by section and mulch over it. Most importantly and as you can see by the newly planted bananas we have placed cardboard underneath the fence and will work the whole perimeter this way to avoid the grass from crawling in. Once we have more foot traffic and shade in the Community Garden the grass growth will decrease.


Please keep any tools or gardening equipment off the isles in between beds. We would like to avoid any accidents. A green metal bin has been placed in between the beds to keep any stakes, hose heads or tools in an organized matter until we install a shed.

If you bring your compost or food scraps to one of our compost stations please place it inside the compost bin and cover with shredded newspaper, paper, cardboard or mulch from the mulch pile. If you don’t cover the food scraps the compost process will not happen in the desired manner.

Let’s be an example and avoid single use plastics inside the community garden. This means for example bringing a refillable bottle instead of plastic bottles, avoid bringing compost in plastic bags and instead bring it in a bucket or Tupperware container that you can take back with you. As an organic community garden we want to be an example to our community of how we can do more for our environment and especially for the ocean that is so close by our space.

Remember to close the hose spigot when you leave!! We have found it to be open a couple of times. Water is precious!

AUGUST 28TH AND 29TH FROM 9AM-12PM THERE WILL BE AN OPEN HOUSE AT THE COMMUNITY FOREST GARDEN. Anyone that is interested in learning more and renting a raised bed is welcome!

It’s Happening…

Something odd, something fun, something new. This is the Apollo Beach Garden Club. We recently just turned a year old. Our diverse plant group was created with good intentions aimed at educating, inspiring and teaching by example. We are based out of Apollo Beach, Florida, and focus on the three E’s. What are the three E’s, you ask? Endemic Florida species, epiphytes, and edibles. Our broad focus is derived from a loving passion for plants. In particular, the “wow,” the “yes,” and the “tasty” kinds!

The club meets from 11am to 1pm on the third Tuesday of each month at the Apollo Beach Recreation Center, 664 Golf and Sea Blvd., Apollo Beach. The first hour usually consists of a speaker, program, garden project or other activity. The second hour consists of a pot-luck lunch provided by members. We also encourage all members to bring a plant to talk about or to exchange with others. Although, I don’t see an immediate need to charge a membership fee, we will most likely start implementing a membership fee starting 2018 to help fund planting projects.

Please look forward to more involvement from the Garden Club and feel free to bring a friend. Remember, Just keep planting!