There is no doubt that The People’s Garden is a force in this community.

There are more people renting a garden bed or two for the season this year, 16 beds are in use by renters. At this garden, food is produced for hungry people, individuals can learn about gardening techniques, grow some of their food for their family and meet and make friends. There are a total of 55 garden beds located at Agape Distribution in Sidney. Beds that are not rented ($10 for the season, free seeds, and tools) are used to provide fresh vegetables for the food pantry shoppers. Currently, this is so important, to be able to supplement one’s food availability. Everyone is welcome at the garden, and we are now an international garden, and we find ways of communicating with each other. I have an app on my phone that helps me to learn Japanese. I love this opportunity to be not just a community, but an international one. Next step in communicating is to learn sign language! I know there are many people in the area that speak other languages like French, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, and others.

This is the beginning of the season and we have been working at breakneck speed to try to get every bed planted. We have had some help from volunteers and from some of the renters. Please consider helping. Every hour helps a lot! Being a community garden, anyone in the surrounding area is welcome to rent a garden bed, volunteer to assist in many ways like building a ramp for the Learning Center, weed beds, build new beds, plant crops, or even just come and walk around enjoying the beauty of the garden and nature. We spend a lot of time protecting the food from critters like deer and groundhogs by building fences around the beds and doing companion-planting, knowing what insects are damaging to crops and how to take care of the diseases that attack plants. There are no chemicals used in taking care of the crops, so there is no danger to humans or the animals and birds or the river which is right next to the garden. We have a 1500-gallon rain tank for watering the plants when necessary.

The People’s Garden has been in existence since 2013, starting with four raised garden beds and increasing in popularity and production every year since. If you are just hearing of the garden, we invite you to visit, walk around the property, and ask questions of the coordinators. Agape Distribution is where the garden is located, at 209 Brooklyn in Sidney. If you visit, drive in the back driveway off Court Street, past the loading dock, and notice the “cabin” at the end of the driveway back by the woods. The “cabin” is the Learning Center where we have classes, and where we store seeds, small items used in taking care of the garden, have snacks and coffee/water for visitors and workers and do some of the planning. We plan what to grow in the garden, which beds to plant which crops, how to protect the crops, and even what to teach in the classes that we offer. We are continually asked to give a talk about the mission and the operation of the garden to various organizations in the area. There is a Master Gardener and other skilled gardeners on staff to answer any questions you might have.

You can find out more about The People’s Garden on Facebook or by calling Conelia at 937-726-9525 or emailing [email protected]. We have a message box on the porch of The Learning Center where you can see the map of the garden beds and a job list if you want to volunteer. You can leave us a message there too if you need to, find our phone number, pick up a brochure or choose a job. Watch for our articles in The Sidney Daily News each month.

Terry Richardson and Greg Mitchell install a martin house at the People’s Garden. Richardson and Greg Mitchell install a martin house at the People’s Garden. Courtesy photo

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.