October 21, 2014

Community garden set to open this spring

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
All of the fruits in town will be in one place this summer. Well, maybe not all, but at least a lot of fresh local produce will be grown at a community garden.
The Knights of Columbus are spearheading the project, which will include approximately 140 plots that local gardeners can use to grow fresh fruits and vegetables this year.
Divine Mercy parishioners, leaders and members of the Knights of Columbus were discussing hosting a farmers market in the church parking lot on Saturdays. However, they realized that might not work as many local growers were already committed to selling their produce at other markets on Saturdays.
“So the Knights of Columbus brainstormed and thought, well, we could make our own producers,” Brian Boutte, a community garden volunteer, said.
The group secured four acres that will be divided into two, separate gardens. One acre will contain approximately 140, 10-by-20-foot plots individuals can rent.
“There won’t be any rules as to what they plant, just that they keep it contained,” Boutte said.
Organizers will also try to separate conventional gardening sections from those growing organically or all-natural.
A second area will contain communal crops that require additional space. Boutte said the hope is that local civic organizations will tend to the larger garden.
“The whole concept is for the youth or civic groups that help tend for those gardens to have a possible outlet to sell some of that stuff as kind of a fundraiser,” Boutte said. “We’re also encouraging them to find a local charity. We’d like as much produce to stay in town, in the community. We don’t yet exactly who is going to take it and when.”
Organizers are also still ironing out details for getting water to the community garden, which will be located just south of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Gardner. Right now, organizers have secured a 1,100 gallon tank that will handle water until something else can be worked out.
Meanwhile, the Knights of Columbus received a Kansas Health Foundation grant to kick-start the community garden.
The grant provides up to $5,000 for community garden preparation including installation of water wells and irrigation lines; tools; storage sheds and other miscellaneous expenses.
“We will use that to establish it and run that community garden for the first year. It’s pretty exciting,” Bill East, Deputy Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, said.
Individual plots will cost $40 for one and $35 for additional plots. East said there will also be opportunities for those who already have gardens.
“They can come out and help with the communal part of the garden and earn what we are calling veggie bucks,” East explained.
Veggie bucks can be used to purchase some of the communal produce at reduced price.
Garden organizers will host an informational meeting for those interested in helping with the garden or leasing plot at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 4 at the Gardner Library.
For more information, visit the group on Facebook or online at
www.gardnercommunitygarden.org.

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