The Roundup -

EARC Moves Forward With 1st Annual Community Garden Project


MSU Extension Agent Tim Fine points to the location of the community garden south of the research station at the 2013 EARC Field Day.

With the hint of spring weather in the air, green thumb enthusiasts are busy laying out their plans for this year's gardening season. They are choosing their seeds, checking their garden beds and visualizing the edible and beautiful results that will eventually stem from the fruits of their labor.

But for some, indulging their green thumb and growing a garden is not possible where they are living. Whether it's because there's too much concrete, not enough space, not enough sun, or lack of permission to garden on rented properties, there are many community members that will not see any garden come to fruition this season.

One organization has a plan to change that.

Because Sidney has seen an increased population of people living in apartment complexes and trailers, the Eastern Agricultural Research Center is moving forward with a community garden project that will provide concrete dwellers and those with less than an adequate area to grow a garden, their own borrowed earthen plot of growable goodness during this spring's growing season.

"This is truly a community project and it is our goal to help ensure residents are given the opportunity to grow their own produce while helping ensure they will have some fresh produce in their diets," said Tim Fine, Extension Agent for the EARC.

The idea was pitched last summer during a county-wide conference at a group discussion about community involvement. Providing an opportunity for anyone who wanted to grow a garden was one of the topics that came out of that discussion and it was the topic the EARC felt passionate about pursuing.

The area dedicated to the community garden will be located at the extension office in an area belonging to the EARC and will consist of a 60x40 foot area comprised of 24 garden beds measuring 4X8.

Fine speaking about the garden at the Field Day.

"We are excited about this project because the people calling in to reserve spaces are excited. We've had people volunteer to assist with this project whether it is in educating new gardeners or helping putting the bed kits together," Fine said. To date, eight beds have been reserved.

The EARC anticipates putting weed fabric down in the next several weeks and then calling on the volunteers for their assistance in putting the beds together.

Weather permitting, gardeners will be able to plant in early to middle May.

Participants in the project will sign a contract and pay a $20 rental fee.

Soil, water and some tools will be provided but the garden will be planted and maintained by the gardening participant. Fine will be available to answer questions about gardening as well.

To reserve a garden bed, contact Tim Fine at (406) 433-1206.


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