4-H Youth Garden Dedicated in Memory of Tarleton & Bonnie Davis

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Orange County residents joined Orange County Cooperative Extension and the family of the late Tarleton & Bonnie B. Davis on Saturday, April 15, to dedicate the new Tarleton & Bonnie Davis Memorial 4-H Youth Garden in Hillsborough. Mrs. Davis, a career home economics Extension Agent for almost 40 years with North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Orange County Center, and Mr. Davis, an involved member of the community and avid gardener, made incredible impacts on Northern Orange County communities throughout their lifetime. The garden, named in their honor, has the goal of carrying on their commitment to helping those in need.

The garden honors the life and legacy of Tarleton & Bonnie Davis, longtime residents of Hillsborough.

The 4-H Youth Garden was established in 2021 on about 0.75 acres of the Davis Family property near the corner of Hwy 86 and Hwy 57. Established as a learning lab for youth and families to learn how to grow and eat healthy food, garden participants will use what they grow to help others. Orange County 4-H youth members Camille Clark and Lauren Hoesli are two leaders that have been instrumental in starting the garden. Recognizing that food insecurity is a nationwide problem, Clark and Hoesli attended the 2021 National 4-H Virtual Healthy Living Summit. They competed in the conference Dolphin Tank grant process whereby they developed a vision for the garden and competed against other teams across the nation to attain seed funding for the garden. They were one of twenty groups awarded a $1000 grant which provided the necessary funds to clear the property and build the initial garden infrastructure.

“The community has been so supportive of this project”, says Jonathon Smith, county 4-H Agent and Interim County Director. “Many businesses and community organizations have provided grants and in-kind donations. We have had many calls from individuals all across the region asking if they can donate supplies like plants and beekeeping supplies. The Davis’ daughter Dr. Bonita Neighbors and her family have been kind to extend this opportunity to our 4-H youth and they have been engaged every step of the way.”

Dr. Bonita Neighbors unveils the garden dedication sign while husband Dr. Harold Neighbors, Hillsborough Mayor Jenn Weaver, N.C. Cooperative Extension staff and 4-H members, and family members look on.

Rashid Neighbors, grandson of Tarleton and Bonnie, was instrumental in the garden’s formation. “Even though I am not a resident, I love the Hillsborough community”, says Neighbors. “I have fond memories of visiting my grandparents every year when I was a kid and we have many friends here. This garden started as an idea about three years ago and I am appreciative to N.C. Cooperative Extension and 4-H for partnering to make it a reality. We are committed for the long haul and plan to have future generations of our family involved in the garden as well.”

Camille Clark, now serving as the 2022-2023 North Carolina 4-H Member Engagement Officer, wrote a poem to celebrate the day. One line from the poem reads “grant us the wisdom to be good stewards, aware of the delicate balance that nature provides…  [this garden] providing nourishment, a gift of sustenance”. And that is just what the garden aims to do. To teach local youth how to be good stewards of the land and to use what is grown to sustain themselves, their families, and the community.

To learn more about the garden and the new Grow & Give Garden Club or to explore volunteer and giving opportunities, visit go.ncsu.edu/orangecounty4h or call N.C. Cooperative Extension- Orange County Center at 919-245-2050.