People’s Garden prepares for another season


By Paula Frew - For the Sidney Daily News



Michelle, Nate, and Micah Stephenson remove items not needed during the first workday on March 24. More workdays will be announced later but the garden, located behind Agape Distribution Center, is open at any time without appointment.

Michelle, Nate, and Micah Stephenson remove items not needed during the first workday on March 24. More workdays will be announced later but the garden, located behind Agape Distribution Center, is open at any time without appointment.


Courtesy photo

Wes Keifer and friend empty and organize the shed at the People’s Garden in preparation for the new season.


Courtesy photo

One of the coordinators of the People’s Garden, Michelle Stephenson, along with her husband, Nate, and her son, Zach, stir the compost heap. The garden uses only organic fertilizer in its planting beds.


Courtesy photo

Sidney — “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul,” said Alfred Austin, 19th century English Poet Laureate.

Deeply committed to eco-justice, the People’s Garden, located behind Agape Distribution Center on the corner of Brooklyn and Court streets, is preparing for its fourth season. The garden contains 54 raised beds that are used for planting produce to supplement the Agape goods that are offered to those in need in Shelby County as well as to rent to those without room to plant their own gardens.

Eco-justice, according to en.oxforddictionaries.com, is “the condition or principle of being just or equitable with respect to ecological sustainability and protection of the environment, as well as social and economic issues.”

Those in charge at the People’s Garden exercise this not only by giving produce to those in need, but also by using rainwater to water the plants, providing classes in gardening and cooking, and growing crops organically.

The garden first began with four raised beds that were built by volunteers. They weren’t utilized at first, but it was eventually decided that they would be. The first coordinators were Conelia Dixon and Michelle Stephenson. This year, two new coordinators have been added.

At the end of last season, a building was added in order to facilitate classes and cooking demonstrations. This building still needs some work to ready it for the season

“Our mission is not only to help feed hungry people but also to teach gardening, so people can be more self-sufficient in providing some of their own food. Shelby County Master Gardeners are involved some of the teaching. We rent some of the garden beds for $10 for the season to pantry shoppers who want to be involved in gardening for their own use and pleasure. If they need help, the garden coordinators or Master Gardeners are available for advice. Some of them took advantage of that last season and we have already had interest this season,” said Dixon.

Another addition this season is a walking trail.

“A new walking path has been cut through the woods behind the garden…it will have a ramp soon and already has steps that go to the path near the river. Improvements will be made to that this summer including the addition of small raised beds with edible forest plants in them with information about the plants” said Dixon.

In the past a large amount of soil was donated to the garden by Sidney Flower Shop. Finding it depleted, the coordinators are asking for more soil good for planting vegetables to be donated.

Several donations have been given to the garden, kneeling pads, gloves, a rolling cart to be used to sit on while planting, and flowers for the walking path are among them, but several others are needed.

“We need someone or a team to put wiring in our Learning Center. We hold classes in the garden for the pantry shoppers and would like to make good use of our beautiful building. The OSU extension SNAP ED. coordinator does this. We expect to have solar power this year but need some electricity now. We need the flooring put down and the walls put up after the wiring is in,” said Dixon.

Local entities have partnered with the garden and have made donations recently. Among those are Connection Point Church, which donated a rotating composter and a new wheelbarrow. A Tower Garden was donated by a friend of the garden.

Other help needed by the garden includes brush removed to allow more sun for the plants, people to rent or sponsor a bed, and a riding and push mower.

“Our riding mower has died. We need a used riding mower and could use a push mower too. If anyone has a used one that they are interested in selling or donating, please call Agape Distribution at 937-498-4368 and talk to Jeff McAtee,” said Dixon.

The first workday of the year was held March 24, and a lot was accomplished despite the weather. People’s Garden and Agape would like to thank the public and invite them to the garden.

“We invite community members to come and visit the garden anytime. You do not have to have an appointment. Anyone can rent a garden bed for their own use or sponsor a bed for $10 so more pantry shoppers can enjoy growing some of their own food. Call Agape to be involved in the garden. They will give your information to Conelia Dixon who will contact you. Thank you very much in advance for your community interest and your involvement in this project,” said Dixon.

Michelle, Nate, and Micah Stephenson remove items not needed during the first workday on March 24. More workdays will be announced later but the garden, located behind Agape Distribution Center, is open at any time without appointment.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2018/04/web1_Garden-3.jpgMichelle, Nate, and Micah Stephenson remove items not needed during the first workday on March 24. More workdays will be announced later but the garden, located behind Agape Distribution Center, is open at any time without appointment. Courtesy photo

Wes Keifer and friend empty and organize the shed at the People’s Garden in preparation for the new season.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2018/04/web1_Garden-1.jpgWes Keifer and friend empty and organize the shed at the People’s Garden in preparation for the new season. Courtesy photo

One of the coordinators of the People’s Garden, Michelle Stephenson, along with her husband, Nate, and her son, Zach, stir the compost heap. The garden uses only organic fertilizer in its planting beds.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2018/04/web1_Garden-2.jpgOne of the coordinators of the People’s Garden, Michelle Stephenson, along with her husband, Nate, and her son, Zach, stir the compost heap. The garden uses only organic fertilizer in its planting beds. Courtesy photo

By Paula Frew

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.