Organizers plan Evansville community garden

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Gina Duwe
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

EVANSVILLE--Starting a community garden was on the minds of many in Evansville.

Members of a community service committee at St. John's Lutheran Church thought it would be neat to start a garden, while the Lion's Club and Evansville Farmers Market groups also were talking about the idea.

With the city's support, everyone came together to say, “let's do it,” said Butch Beedle, a retired teacher behind the effort as a member of many of the supporting groups.

The city's park board approved the use of one acre in West Side Park for the community garden, City Council President Jim Brooks said.

“I think that it's a really good use of some space over there that the city has no plans for at the current time,” he said.

Organizers hope to build education and family into the garden so people learn and enjoy themselves, Beedle said.

Church members want to help with labor to get it started, as well as some of the finances, he said. Other ideas include plots to grow food for the local food pantry and a spot for day care children to tend their own plants.

“There's a lot of nice ideas,” he said.

Interested residents can join an informal steering committee, but the group decided it wouldn't be ready to offer plots this spring, Beedle said. Alfalfa is growing on the land, which wouldn't be insurmountable, but organizers realized they had many tasks to complete before opening, he said.

“We thought we better slow down,” he said.

Organizers haven't picked an exact location. They plan to walk around the five-acre site next week to determine a good spot, he said. The garden likely will be west of the playground in West Side Park, which is off of 6th Street.

Gardeners hope to work the ground for the first time in fall and sign people up for plots over winter, Beedle said.

Organizers are working on bylaws and rules and looking at how other communities run their gardens. Organizers hope a regular board will take over in fall once procedures are in place.

The size of plots varies among community gardens elsewhere, but a 20-by-20-foot plot is common, Beedle said, with some people splitting one and others buying two. Most gardens have a fee structure, ranging from $25 to $85 to help pay for water, compost and working the soil. If a fee is charged, organizers are talking about a sliding scale depending on need, he said.

Two others sites were considered—one by the city's water tower and one by Creekside Place—but the park came out on top because of parking and accessibility to water. The park has a bathroom and parking, and more water will be available after a shelter is built late this summer, Beedle said.

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