Planting seeds of promise and harvesting hope


SIDNEY — The People’s Garden is for the “People.” Have you visited yet? It is waiting for you to come and enjoy the peacefulness of the natural beauty of a garden, birds, flowers and occasionally some deer. You are welcome anytime.

There have been quite a few people who have wandered behind Agape Distribution to see what is going on at the garden, or to drop off donations of vegetable plants in the spring. We always make room for donations as well as planting the seeds and vegetable plants that we have, to produce food for hungry people that shop in the pantry at Agape. Thank you for all for thinking of others.

Sometimes we have enough extra plants to give to the shoppers to take home and plant in their own yards or gardens. This year we have rented 13 4-foot by 8-foot raised beds to pantry shoppers, volunteers, and other community members. We only ask $10 for the season, just enough to make it yours to plant what you are hungry for. You can even plant only flowers. One year, Richard planted 100 gladiolas in one of the 4-foot by 8-foot beds. So beautiful!

This month we plan to have a general gardening class at the garden on Friday, Aug. 26 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. To sign up, contact 937-726-9525 to sign up. We want anyone who has a desire to grow veggies or flowers, beginners who know little and those who know a lot. It will be fun, no pressure. We also want ideas of what our Learning Center can be used for, like music, art, crafts, Bible studies, et cetera. Come and be a part of The People’s Garden. We invite anyone who would like to volunteer to come, as well.

We have a beautiful Learning Center that skilled volunteers have insulated and paneled for us. We have air conditioning and heat, coffee, and snacks. We offered a class last month, but God decided that we should have it another time. It rained buckets in the time that we scheduled. We were there sitting on the covered porch on the bench talking about things we want to see happen at the garden and enjoying the rain. Planning and scheduling are done by the coordinators and at the present time we have three coordinators, Connie, Michelle, and Deb. We plan what to plant in each of the 53 beds, when to plant, what vegetables to plant as companions and things we want to accomplish for the community. We did have 54 beds, but due to this coordinator learning how to drive a zero-turn mower, we now have 53. I am doing better! Fortunately, no vegetables were harmed in the process.

At this point in the growing season, we have harvested and taken into the food pantry about 200 pounds of vegetables. We are starting to get red tomatoes, but green ones are a hot item for the shoppers as are hot peppers of all types. We try to give them things that they can’t get anywhere else.

We are beginning to take in squash, eggplant, and soon turnips, okra, and beets. The herbs and greens we have are popular. This includes turnip and beet greens, oregano, chives, parsley, basil and even a little dill that volunteered to show up in a tomato bed from last year. The garlic is harvested in July. My daughter, Conelia Kay, helped me plant the cloves last November. This week, my grandchildren helped with the harvesting and took in 22 pounds of vegetables and one sunflower. This year my sister Rhonda Anderson rented a 4-inch by 8-inch raised bed and wanted to plant sunflowers; you will be amazed at how tall they got! She planted them in several different beds at the garden. Suzanne Lonsbury plants the bed of zinnia flowers every year, usually with her granddaughter. We like children at the garden and they like finding the painted stones and toys we hide. They might find a dinosaur or a rhino.

The garden season is never really “over”, but we might stop harvesting for a time when we need to wear mittens to keep warm. Linda Jennings laughs at my gardening mittens. Today we planted chard where we harvested the garlic bulbs, and we are about to plant spinach and more turnips. We planted beans in July, and you will be amazed at how well they do in July and August. Radishes might be in the mix too when it is a little cooler, and we plant onion sets in all seasons except when the snow flies. We have found that onions and carrots can live through the winter, as well as arugula, my favorite salad item.

I am rambling again, so I will stop. We are available for talks if you belong to an organization and want us to come and talk about the fabulous People’s Garden. Slide show included and free seeds available if you want. We are about to take part in a Health Fair at Electro Controls, a business in Sidney.

Contact me at 937-726-9525 to sign up for the class on Thursday, Aug. 26. There is no charge. We can’t wait, and hopefully it will not rain cats and dogs again.

Rachel Smith and Deb Grazioso get deep in the dirt maintaining garden beds at the People’s Garden. Smith and Deb Grazioso get deep in the dirt maintaining garden beds at the People’s Garden.

Terry Richardson stands with one of her sunflowers at the People’s Garden. Richardson stands with one of her sunflowers at the People’s Garden.

By Conelia Dixon

Contributing columnist

The writer is a Master Gardener and a coordinator of the People’s Garden. Reach her at 937-726-9525.

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