People’s Garden planting day set for May 7, 14


By Paula Frew



A group from S&H Products helps out in the People’s Garden located behind Agape Distribution on Brooklyn Avenue in Sidney.

A group from S&H Products helps out in the People’s Garden located behind Agape Distribution on Brooklyn Avenue in Sidney.


Courtesy photo

SIDNEY — From a small beginning of four gardens, the People’s Garden has grown since its establishment in 2014.

The first garden had four raised beds, which were built by an FFA group and laid dormant until Conelia Dixon approached Agape Distribution CEO the Rev. John Geissler about planting them.

“When I started working there (Agape), I said that I’d really rather work outside. I was introduced to Jeff McAtee, and he was interested in having some sort of a garden, already. He showed me the four beds, and I immediately started putting soil in and planting. We started with those four,” said Dixon.

The team grew after Geissler put McAtee in charge of the venture and Michelle Stephenson joined Dixon.

“Two and a half years ago, my dad passed away, suddenly, in a motorcycle wreck. He was 64 years old, and we didn’t expect that at all. During the grieving process of losing my dad suddenly, I leaned on my faith and felt strongly that I was supposed to be involved with a community garden of some sort,” said Stephenson.

When the vegetables were harvested, the team put them in the pantry to be enjoyed by clients at Agape.

Agape is a free grocery store, serving those with limited income in Shelby County. Agape is one of the largest such stores in Ohio, providing approximately 85 families a day with 75 pounds of free groceries.

“Growing up, we always had a big garden, and my dad stressed the importance of sustainability and having some for yourself, too. That is a lesson that carried over to our children. My dad was also very selfless, so this seemed a good way to honor him,” said Stephenson.

Dixon, McAtee and Stephenson worked diligently to grow the garden along with the plants in it. The group has worked to build and cultivate more beds. The garden has expanded to include 50 beds.

“A little while before I went there (Agape) I was signed up to take a Master Gardener class through the Ohio State Extension. It was really incredible how those two things matched up for me. I’ve always been a gardener, but I decided I wanted to just know something!” said Dixon.

Geissler has written a grant for a building for the garden. The building would be used for teaching or for meetings. The building would also be available for the general public.

This year, some of the beds will be available for people to rent and use for the season. The beds will be rented for a $20 fee for the season. Part of this fee will be refunded if the bed is left cleaned at the end of the season. A couple of beds have already been rented.

Gardeners are able to use the garden’s tools, seeds, soil. There are guidelines such as no use of pesticides. The People’s Garden is committed to chemical-free, organic planting.

“We’re hoping some of the beds will be used by people who come to Agape for groceries. Some have expressed an interest,” said Dixon.

Several volunteers have helped to make the garden happen. There are jobs to be done that range from filling beds to planting seeds to sorting seed packets that have been donated. Some have even helped to build deer fencing.

There are many more plans for expanding the garden in the coming years. The community is invited to visit the garden, located behind Agape. The garden will be holding a planting day on May 7 and May 14. The public is invited to volunteer their time to come out and enjoy planting with other gardeners.

More information can be obtained by calling Dixon at 937-726-9525.

A group from S&H Products helps out in the People’s Garden located behind Agape Distribution on Brooklyn Avenue in Sidney.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2016/05/web1_Peoples.jpgA group from S&H Products helps out in the People’s Garden located behind Agape Distribution on Brooklyn Avenue in Sidney. Courtesy photo

By Paula Frew

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

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