In Pine Manor, there is a garden that sits in the middle of the Fort Myers community. It is seeing new development now that an FGCU alumnus has planted his feet and a green thumb at Pine Manor Community Gardens.
Arlo Simonds is the garden coordinator and permaculture designer for Pine Manor Community Gardens.
“So, this project for me was a really great opportunity to continue my work that I was doing at FGCU, which was food justice related, food security, food sovereignty,” Simonds said. “So, this is a really great opportunity for me to get into a real community in the Fort Myers area off campus and make a big difference for these people.”
Simonds is a founder of the FGCU Food Forest, a botanical garden near the south entrance of FGCU’s campus.
Much like the service opportunities students can experience at FGCU, Pine Manor offers service-learning hours for students like Kevin Velandia.
“I just drove down here from Gulf Coast (FGCU) to get some hours completed for my class in colloquium,” Velandia said. “And, basically, what we are doing here is basically just gardening. I’m learning a lot more about just growing your own food basically and just helping him out right now, making compost.”
In the gardens, Simonds is growing perennial plants that have a life span of about two to three years. It creates a lot of opportunity for people in the community who may be food insecure.
“But, not only that, but it really touches to the core of people’s cultures, what they grew up eating, what their culture is all about,” Simonds said. “So, here in Southwest Florida, specifically, we have a really phenomenal opportunity to grow vegetables, specifically perennial vegetables, that can be grown in Africa, that can be grown in Southeast Asia, South America, Central America, all in the Caribbean. So, here in Pine Manor we have a really diverse community. Folks that came all around the world live here in Pine Manor.”
The Pine Manor community is located off of U.S. 41 near the City of Fort Myers.
To call for details about the garden or for interest in service opportunities contact Simonds at 305-393-6234, or email him at [email protected]