The Central Park Community Garden began in the mid-90s when Elia Woods, Allen Parleir and Brian Hearn, all residents of the Central Park neighborhood in Oklahoma City, decided to start a community garden as a way of bringing neighbors together and improving the neighborhood. We found several trashy, overgrown, vacant lots on the corner of NW 31 and Shartel that we deemed to have great potential. After confirming that these lots had already been repossessed by the county, a plan was presented to acquire these lots for community gardens. The county agreed and gave the lots to the city. The city donated the lots to the neighborhood association with the stipulation that they be turned into community gardens for the benefit of the neighborhood. Neighbors immediately began working together to clean up the area.
A major initial challenge was discovering high levels of chlordane contamination in the soil. Chlordane, which is now banned, used to be a commonly used termiticide. Allen researched biological methods of remediation, and after three years of adding compost and planting cover crops, the chlordane levels were down to zero. Since that minor miracle, we have gone on to work together with many neighbors to create compost piles and plant vegetable beds, dwarf fruit trees, perennial shrubs, and flower borders.