The idea of having a garden at MITCH had been in the works from the beginning. Poles outside marked the perimeter of Siena’s grandfather’s garden plot, then just another area of the acre of grass and weeds that needed to be maintained. Distant dreams of a community garden, in line with the Collective’s mission and goals, became reality in early spring after attending a meeting with the Green Wheeling Initiative and learning of their grant opportunities available for community gardens. Within weeks the paperwork was processed and Terry and Ken were tilling the ground between the old poles, in what is now the site of eight raised garden beds.
When we first tilled the garden, it looked like this:
And I was left wondering how it was all going to come together.
But in a matter of months, we now have this:
And I am amazed at how well some of our vegetables have done— like our first crop of radishes, the kale that was slow to start but then has continued to produce, along with lettuce, and all of our beets, and the beans. We’ve had our problems as well, of course, with pests, like our number one enemy, the groundhog, who ate every broccoli plant we had in the ground, before our fence was in place. And then there’s early blight on the tomatoes and squash bugs now getting to the cucumbers. It’s been comforting to talk to others and know we aren’t the only garden dealing with these pests, and it’s a great opportunity to learn how to watch for them and keep them in check.
We share our garden space with two neighboring families, who have been awesome supports throughout the season. Sharing the space is a great way to share knowledge, time and resources, and of course the produce. And it’s fun. Each of the families have three kids of different ages, and they have been great help with the watering and weeding. I don’t think we’d be having as much success as we are now if we hadn’t had diligent watering during the drought in the early part of summer!
In addition to the garden, we’ve been busy with other outdoor projects. We’re attempting to replant a grassy area in the very front of the house with clover, we’ve installed three rain barrels, out of ten purchased with the remaining grant money from the Green Wheeling Initiative, and we’ve started composting. We have a home-made bin outside for food scraps, and another larger pile in the garden area with grass clippings (and the bags of horse manure I was given as a birthday present!) And most recently we’ve added a worm composting bin.
So we’re off to a pretty good start in our first year. And there are so many people to thank for their help and support. (I have a running list— I’ll get around to posting it at some point). And there is also lots of room to… well, grow. And I’m looking forward to it, and to having more people be involved.
Right now we are planning an open house to invite anyone who is interested to stop by and see what we’ve been up to for the past few months, and also share in tasting some of the harvest! We’re looking at August 19th, so check back soon for more information! And if you want to receive updates by email about events, sign up for our newsletter.