Growing a community, one garden at a time
Interest in community gardens has reached an all-time high, but a garden could fizzle and fade unless the right training and support is provided for startup groups.
Each group needs several ingredients to be successful. Community gardens are defined by the group of gardeners that manage them. Delaware County currently has several gardens, each with its own unique characteristics.
Most community gardens are comprised of manageably-sized garden plots, jointly created by members in the community and cared for by individuals. They encourage opportunities for social gatherings, beautification, education and recreation.
The Delaware County Master Gardeners have formed a committee called Grow and Share, which is designed to assist community gardens throughout Delaware County. The group’s mission is to be a resource center for information, seeds, fact sheets and sometimes a helping hand. Most of all, we are here to support each garden with questions, issues and concerns. We will be hosting a series of classes and programs, beginning in April, to help gardeners with their endeavors. The classes will be held monthly with a different topic each month, all related to community gardening.
A program is being held Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Columbus State Community College’s Delaware campus. The keynote speaker will be Bill Dawson, the coordinator of Growing to Green at Franklin Park Conservatory. He will share his many experiences regarding the growing, building and the sustainability of a community garden. Attendees will discover ways to improve garden production through succession planting and companion planting. A panel of experts will be on hand to discuss how to create, manage and maintain gardens in your community, in addition to answering questions of those who have established gardens.
The day begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m. The program costs $15, and lunch is included, along with coffee and water. We will also have available an optional book titled Dig In for purchase at $12. This manual was created by the Cuyahoga County Master Gardeners to help in creating the more than 200 community gardens in the area. It’s a wonderful resource guide to get you started and keep things running smoothly. If you can’t attend the day of the program but are interested in a Dig In guide, you can get one at the OSU Extension Office in Delaware.
Community gardens are as important to a neighborhood as public parks, especially in low-income areas with poor access to healthy foods. A community garden can provide good healthy food, exercise in maintaining the garden and a food source within easy access. Community gardens can make a difference in the lives of those involved. You meet your neighbors, which is something lost in this day and age. They bring together people of different backgrounds with the common interest of gardening and the production of food in an environmentally-responsible way. People from various parts of the world come together and share cultural and culinary techniques with other members.
Call the OSU Extension office at 740–833-2030 to register for the Feb. 4 program, by Friday, Jan. 20. We look forward to the day, and learning how to grow a community.
Susan Liechty is an OSU Extension Master Gardener.