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Edible Gardening Exchange relocates to Nort Fort Myers

By Staff | Mar 24, 2015

After spending the last several years in Lehigh Acres, the Edible Gardening Exchange has moved to the North Fort Myers Recreation Center in hopes of getting more membership.

Karen Harty, who runs the club, got the idea of starting a gardening group four years ago, shortly after moving to Florida and discovering she knew nothing about growing fruits and vegetables in this climate.

“The sand and the heat and when to plant was totally different. And I was selfish and put together a group so I could get great speakers out so I would look good to them,” Harty said.

It proved to be a great strategy as she and her group learned from the best. Along the way she became a master gardener and started running her own group through Parks and Recreation, which allowed her to use the rooms at Veterans Park in Lehigh Acres for free.

When she started using her master gardening hours as a 4-H leader and not running the club, she had to start paying for the room.

“Nobody in our club was willing to spend $10 to stay there. I had to go somewhere where someone would pay to come to the club,” Harty said. “I’ve been paying guest speakers out of my pocket and I wasn’t going to pay for a room on top of that.”

Harty got in contact with Colleen Via from Lee County Parks & Rec in hopes of continuing the club without having to pay out of her own pocket. Harty became a vendor and this past week ran the first meeting at the club for free.

That first meeting Thursday featured Brad Ward from ECHO, who discussed soil and what grows best.

The Edible Gardening Exchange is a loosely knit group that discusses anything pertaining to growing edible plants. If you can grow it, Harty can get a speaker on it.

“It’s a challenge down here because people come down this time of year and think they can put a tomato plant in. But they don’t like it when it gets too warm,” Harty said. “You grow them in the winter, while in the summer you grow appropriate things.”

The class cost is $10 for six months and $15 for a year. It meets every third Thursday of each month.

People interested in joining can contact Harty at 530-8883.