Room to grow

GREENFIELD — Aspiring gardeners who don’t have enough land to plant their own gardens could be in luck this season.

New Hope Church of the Nazarene in Greenfield is offering up free plots of land to residents who want to plant herbs, veggies and flowers this spring.

In coming weeks, residents can lay claim to small plots of land behind the church, measuring up to 20-by-20 feet apiece.

The garden is open to all, not just members of the congregation, said the Rev. Josh Robertson, who came up with the idea for the garden, which is modeled off similar programs in other communities.

The church will start small, offering up about 10 plots initially, Robertson said. If there’s enough interest, the program will expand, he added.

Part of the hope of the program, Robertson said, is to create a sense of community among members of the community garden.

Participants will be encouraged to donate a portion of their harvested crops to local community service organizations, he said, like Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen or the Hancock County Food Pantry.

The plots will be open to both beginners and seasoned gardeners, Robertson said, adding that he hopes those with extensive experience will be able to help others who are just getting their start.

“We know it will be a learning experience for some,” he said.

Currently, most of the church’s three-acre property is covered by grass, but in coming weeks, workers will take to the field with shovels and trowels, Robertson said.

The church, 52 N. County Road 500E, will provide a hose and spigot for users. Initially, gardeners will be asked to bring shovels and tools of their own, but Robertson said he hopes to eventually accumulate a communal set of donated tools for everyone to use.

Roy Ballard, agriculture resources educator with the local Purdue Extension office, said community gardens offer a unique opportunity for residents who are either renting or who don’t have adequate space to garden in their own yards.

It’s also a good option for those who want to team up with a group of friends to split duties in the garden, as opposed to growing an entire garden of their own, he said.

The 4-H extension office in Greenfield, 802 N. Apple St., has a trove of resources for beginning gardeners, Ballard added, including insect guides, soil testing resources and information about proper food preparation techniques.

Though community gardening has gained significant support in urban areas and large cities, interest is spreading to the county, too, he said.

A community garden at Brandywine Park, which is operated by the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department, has gained popularity in recent years, said parks director Ellen Kuker.

The park offers up two dozen free plots each season, all of which are typically claimed within the first few weeks of spring, Kuker said.

Those plots measure approximately 12-by-16 feet, Kuker said, adding that most already have been claimed for the season.

In the past, Kuker said she’s had to turn people away once all the plots are spoken for. With the addition of another community garden, Kuker said she’ll be happy to refer residents to New Hope’s program.

Plotting to plant?

Residents who are interested in reserving a plot in the community garden may contact New Hope, 317-376-3266, to sign up.

Author photo
Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or dmorgan@greenfieldreporter.com.