Growing a community garden

Organizers seek input from the public

When the Marshalltown Neighborhood Revitalization Program began in this past January, it zeroed in on ways that areas of the community could be enriched and beautified. In a meeting held Tuesday at the Marshalltown Public Library, input was sought on starting a community garden that would be cultivated at the corner of S. 3rd Street and W. Church Street, on a lot owned by the House of Compassion.

Produce grown would be used for the HoC’s evening meals and given away to those in need. A variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs would be cultivated.

Attendees, who ranged from gardeners, volunteers, and representatives from non-profit agencies, brainstormed ways in which the garden could be started — and sustained.

“We are going to rebuild the beds that are already there [from a prior garden project],” said Program Manager Joyce Brown. “The city has applied for a few grants to help us get supplies, and we have schools interested in growing seedlings and painting pickets for the fence.”

The proposed garden would be developed in a lot measuring 60×100 feet wide (with room for 20 beds), with a picket fence painted by local children, much in the style of the Children’s Discovery Garden at Mega-10 Park.

A donation of $50 will cover the cost of one picket, with the donor names going on a special plaque that will be displayed at the site. The hope is to generate interest among local families, service clubs and businesses to help turn the empty lot into a garden, with enough volunteers available to water the plants, pick the produce and handle the day-to-day upkeep it would require.

“It will probably be a ‘gypsy garden’ where people take what they want,” said HoC Director Karen Frohwein.

Housing and Community Development Director Michelle Sponheimer, who is also coordinating the project, said there will be periodic meetings updating the public on the progression of the project.

“Our goal with this first meeting was to open up a discussion,” she said.

For more information on the Neighborhood Revitalization Program, visit: https://www.marshalltown-ia.gov/572/Neighborhood-Revitalization-Program

Those interesting in volunteering may contact Linda Von Holten at: 641-752-0279 or mcvc@cirsvp.org. For general questions, contact Brown at: 641-754-6583 or via email at jbrown@marshalltown-ia.gov

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com