Dionne “Dee” Morales, of East Tampa has been gardening for years. Most recently she has taken her efforts to a friend’s backyard in Sulphur Springs where she has developed 813 Hood Garden to provide access to fresh produce and opportunities for community residents to learn the skill and art of gardening.
But 813 Hood Garden isn’t your typical community garden where residents are allotted spaces to grow food crops at their own leisure.
“It’s more of a community space,” Morales states, evidenced by the regular programming she hosts there. For instance, Yoga in the Garden features yoga instructors hosting classes in the 813 Hood Garden space.
“I want it to be a place where people can come and learn, share. …I’d love to have a market here in the garden,” she says.
When asked where she wants to take the garden next, Morales says, “I’d love to have a space in East Tampa, but it’s hard to find a space.”
Local East Tampa community activist Dominique Cobb has assisted in providing contact information for the local community center, Highland Pines, which has a vacant lot that could potentially accommodate an 813 Hood garden expansion.
“I think it would be good for the community, and we need more programming in those spaces as many of them are not being used.”
In December, Morales participated as a co-sponsor on a camping expedition with several local groups in which she led a foraging expedition for children.
“I lead the kids on a mini plant ID hike. We were able to ID beauty berries, wild bitter melon, and a few others. Overall, I loved the idea behind this event and would love to see more events like it locally. This was a whole vibe, a place for ‘us’ to feel safe learning basic skills.”
Morales is still in need, however, of garden support including volunteers with a passion for wanting to help, support with developing an irrigation system, or even an in-kind donation of small storage.
For more information, follow 813 Hood Garden on Instagram and Facebook. Or email Dee Morales.