An orchard of apple, peach, pear, cherry and plum trees now lines the lane to the Gardner Community Garden. The garden recently was recipient of a $2500 grant from KCPL to build a new shelter house. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz


Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner Community Garden was announced a recipient of KCPL’s third annual Energizing Our Environment Microgrant Program on Aug. 24.
Dylan Harding applied for the grant on behalf of the garden as part of an Eagle Scout project. Dylan is the son of Alisha Harding, who is a member of the Garden Advisory Committee.
According to a press release from KCPL, over 70 applications were received, and 16 were awarded. The Gardner Community Garden (GCG) will receive a $2500 grant from KCPL.
The funds will go towards building a shelter house, picnic tables and installation of rain water collection barrels.
The shelter house will provide a place where gardeners can take a break from the heat. The structure will also be used for meetings, gardening classes, youth education and social events.
KCPL states that the purpose of the grants are to “provide nonprofit organizations an opportunity to improve the environment in their communities in a meaningful way.”
GCG received two grants in 2015 – a grant from Home Depot was used to develop a children’s garden, and a Fiskar’s grant provided $2500 worth of gardening equipment.
Now nearing the end of it’ fourth year, the GCG occupies five acres of land south of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The local Knights of Columbus Council is the charter sponsor.
One acre of the five is divided into 15 by 23 foot garden plots, which are available to individuals, families or groups for $40 a season. About 70 plots were rented for the 2016 growing season.
The other four acres are a communal garden, which are used to produce crops like corn, potatoes, onions, squash and melons in bulk. The garden also grows truckloads of tomatoes and has a large asparagus patch.
Most of the bulk produce will be delivered to local charities.
A garden of that size requires a lot of work. How does it all get done?
“We have a core group of people that are dedicated to the garden, every year, year after year,” said Alisha Harding, communications coordinator.
Most in that core group have been there from the start. The growth and success of the garden is due to the vision and commitment of this group; the result of countless hours devoted to tending the needs of the garden year round.
Involvement and support from the public, business community and local government indicate that the community has widely accepted the garden as an asset.
The mayor came out and helped plant fruit trees in the orchard that now lines the lane to the garden.
Individuals, with or without a plot, can come out and work in the communal garden and earn “veggie bucks” to purchase produce for themselves, while contributing to the larger effort which supplies food to the needy.
Local youth groups, such as Scouts and 4-H, get involved with garden projects and put in many hours throughout the growing season.
Local businesses of every kind have helped out. Tree trimming companies donate mulch. The local hardware store and lumber yard have provided materials. The tire shop has helped, the grocers have helped… the list goes on and on.
GCG has been assisted by the rural water district and the city parks and recreation department.
“It seems like every time we have a need, by the grace of God somebody steps up to fill it,” said Brian Boutte, co-vice chairperson of the Garden Advisory Committee.
That support is repaid when the garden generously gives back to the community during the growing season.
Over the past three years GCG has donated approximately ten tons of produce to local charities.
GCG makes regular donations to the Multi-Service Centers of Gardner and Spring Hill, Catholic Charities in Olathe and Overland Park, and the WICK office in Olathe.
The garden also sells produce directly to the public on certain days.
Contact the garden through their website, gardnercommunitygarden.com.
The garden offers plot registration sign ups at a chili supper type event in October at the Grange building on the fairgrounds.