Monday, April 6, 2009

The Creation Process of a Worthington CG

Dear Community Gardeners,

After several discussions with Worthington Parks and Rec, here is an update on where we stand. Please come to tomorrow night's meeting at the Old Worthington Library if you can, or let the group know of your interest and willingness to get involved. I sent this to Celia Tincher, assistant to Linda Chambers (Mrs. Chambers is currently on vacation) and she supports my view of he project. I will bring copies of Ms.Tincher's overview (written as I was writing mine) to the meeting tomorrow.

The Worthington Parks and Rec Department has a nearby field that might make a good site for a community garden, and Linda Chambers, the director of Parks and Rec, is someone who has participated in community gardening herself, and believes it could be an excellent component of the Worthington P & R program. If the project near the Rec Center is successful, we might eventually be able to develop community gardens in neighborhood parks as well.
There are some hurdles to leap.

Site Related Concerns
First, P&R is in the process of investigating what chemicals have been put on the field in the past, to make sure the area can be used as a garden. Second, P&R has a plan to build a pavilion in the field, with a solar panel on the roof (this will help with energy costs at the rec dept.). They spoke with the representative of the company about the possibility of a garden there as well, and he did not think the two uses were incompatible. It would be a nice place for gardeners' harvest feasts, rest breaks, picnics, children's activities, garden-related demonstrations and classes and more! Third, the summer day camps use a part of the field for recreation, so the garden design would need to accommodate that.

Community gardening did not rank very high on the surveys the City asked citizens to fill out last summer. That doesn't rule us out, but it means we have to demonstrate broad interest and commitment to get approval from the Parks and Recreation Commission and City Council. Here are some things we will need:

Committed leadership who will meet with Linda Chambers and Celia Tincher and assume responsibility for the projectPower point presentation on the project to present to the P & R Commission and City Coincil (Fred Yaeger said he will advise and help with technical side, as he has done several of these)Some funds for the initial ground preparationDevelopment of a Community Garden club or group that will be ongoing, with officers and a treasury

Advantages of this Site
Most community gardens in our area are connected with Parks and Rec in some way. A good example is Grandview's Wallace Community Garden, which began as a WW II Victory Garden. It is across the road from their Park Dept., which allows staff to keep an eye on things, provided easy access to water, lets parks and rec manage tilling and end-of-season clean-up easily, and allows parks and rec to collect gardeners' fees and oversee the allotment of plots.
Proximity to the Rec dept means parents can garden while children take part in their activities, or combine their own activities with gardening (a swim after weeding, perhaps?).

Parks and rec can help us with site management, registration for plots, collection of fees.
We can develop garden-related programs with them for the benefit of our gardeners and the education and encouragement of new gardeners.

Parks and Rec told us when we were developing the pioneer garden that we could use the community bus for community garden tours, to develop ideas and gain advice for our project. Perhaps this could be done this summer.

Although we would not be able to garden there this spring and summer, we could plant a winter cover crop that would enrich the soil and could be tilled in for spring of 20i0.
Our Strengths

Enthusiasm -- over 60 people are in the SW community garden Google group, and are still asking about a garden site (4 inquiries in the last 2 days)Expertise -- we have a master gardener, JoAnne Dole, who is willing to advise us, and a botanist who works with Bill Dawson at the Franklin Park Conservatory, Kim Brown, and Marc Zody, a nearby resident with a strong interest in this garden,as well as many others with knowledge and skills we can draw on.

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