University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener:
Duval County Railroad Garden Takes You Back in Time

History has shown that the Duval County Master Gardener program is very successful. Now those Master Gardeners are working to keep history alive.

In February 2008, a group of six Master Gardeners began working on a heritage garden at the historic railroad station in the Pablo Historical Park in Jacksonville Beach. The 13-by-13-foot vegetable garden is next to the historical railroad foreman’s house. The garden replicates an early 1920s home garden.

The Master Gardeners interviewed longtime residents and researched old cookbooks to determine what should be grown. The Extension service tilled the soil and Master Gardeners dumped a truckload of composted horse manure to keep the garden authentic to the early 1920s. They planted heritage corn, tomatoes, southern peas, curly mustard, eggplant, okra, pole beans, and sweet potatoes. 

More than 1,000 visitors, including 800 children, have visited the garden since its planting. The volunteers eat the produce that is grown, with an abundance of collard greens to be shared with a food bank. 

Learn more about the Duval County Master Gardener program at their Web site

Heritage garden Starting the garden
Working on the garden Working in the garden

(Click on photos for larger image.)

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