For four years, the Washington Township Community Garden has provided a place for residents to exercise their green thumbs outside their own back yards – and supply food to those in need.
The garden, located in Amlin Crossing Park on Cosgray Road, was started by township Parks & Recreation Director Janell Thomas.
“They surveyed the community and saw there was a need for it,” says Joyce Curtiss, a Parks & Recreation employee involved in the garden’s management.
The garden is open to all township residents, with past participants getting first dibs on plots beginning in January. A brochure advertising the opportunity for remaining plots is mailed to residents at the beginning of March. For $30 plus a $20 clean-up deposit, each gardener receives a 12’ by 14’ plot of land for use April 15 through Nov.15.
The garden has been a hit among residents, with plots sold out each year.
“The plots are filled fast. Usually by the end of March, they’re full for that growing season,” Curtiss says.
This year is no exception. Among the contented community gardeners is Jayne Primavera, who is planting her third year’s crop this spring.
“The best thing is meeting new people and sharing our interest in gardening,” Primavera says. “We learn off of each other.”
Many gardeners do not have access to space to garden at home, so this provides a chance to grow their own produce.
“It’s nice to have the space when you don’t in your own back yard, and it’s really nice to be able to grow your own vegetables,” Primavera says.
Various vegetables are grown in the garden plots, including carrots, beans, tomatoes, spinach, kale and corn.
“It’s a neat environment and it’s good, clean fun,” says community gardener Debbie Prenatt. “It really gives you a deeper appreciation for food in general, especially fresh food.”
One of the garden’s popular features is its relationship with the Dublin Food Pantry. Gardeners say they enjoy that there is rarely any waste; any extra produce is donated to the food pantry.
Prenatt, one of the volunteers who transports the produce to the pantry, says the donations are very much appreciated.
“To me, one of the surprising facts about living in Dublin is that there is a food pantry and it is needed. You really appreciate giving back to people who wouldn’t be able to afford fresh food,” she says.
In addition, participants have the opportunity to volunteer and take on leadership roles within the garden. Sharon Haig, organization coordinator on the Community Garden Board, recruits these volunteers.
“It’s an enjoyable experience. I also give introductions to the new gardeners about our expectations,” Haig says.
Gardeners are expected to keep their plots weeded and harvested, as well as volunteer when it is needed. The Parks & Recreation department and the volunteers try to create community among the gardeners. A harvest party at the end of the season includes a potluck element; gardeners are encouraged to bring a dish that uses their own produce.
“This year we’re asking our gardeners to send in recipes that use produce they’re growing, and we’ll put together a cookbook at the end of the season,” Haig says.
For those new to gardening, the volunteers, staff and other gardeners are happy to assist in deciding what to plant or demonstrating techniques.
“We have so many nice people. It’s nice to help the new people get started,” Primavera says.
Residents interested in gardening next spring should be on the lookout for the Washington Township Parks & Recreation brochure in March 2014.
Allison Dalrymple is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.