LIMA — In its fourth season, LACNIP’s community gardens have an emphasis on the community.
Lima-Allen County Neighborhoods In Partnership organize the gardens at five spots in town, but a wealth of others have made the program successful, city of Lima Neighborhood Specialist Connie Dershem said.
Allen County Juvenile Court, Allen County Health Department, West Ohio Food Bank, Lima schools, Lima Allen Council on Community Affairs and UMADAOP, in addition to garden leaders and neighborhood volunteers, will all play a role this year.
The group gathered at the community garden spot at Spring and Collett streets recently to show off one example of the working together. The Juvenile Court’s Community Service Restitution Program places youth at the garden. Youth in the program have moved from mowing and weeding to leading the garden at Spring and Collett streets, said Matt Romick, Juvenile Court community outreach coordinator.
The youth are reaping what they sow.
“We’ll make salsa at the end of the summer,” Romick said. “Some of the kids really didn’t know that vegetables come out of the ground, not from a can. So, there’s a satisfaction there of growing something. But we won’t wait until the end of summer to enjoy the produce. We can enjoy things on a daily basis; that’s where the strawberries went.”
LACNIP manages four other gardens: at Freedom, Liberty and Emerson schools and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park. The city provides water lines and in the spring LACNIP provides a class that’s geared toward people who have not gardened before. Plots are $10, and gardeners also get vouchers to spend on seeds, plants or equipment at DeHaven’s.
At the end of summer, Allen County Health Department hosts an event to help gardeners figure out what to do with their produce. The event has run the gamut, from classes on canning to new recipes and fresh preparation of food. This year, the group is considering a carry-in.
This year, West Ohio Food Bank donated seed potatoes. At the moment, the site at MLK Park is all potatoes, Dershem said.
At Liberty, a group is well known in the community gardening circle for its every-year success. Teresa Heath helps with the garden. Their secret is division of labor and growing friendships, not just vegetables, she said.
“I enjoy it because I’ve made friends, met people I wouldn’t have otherwise,” Heath said.
Heath has grown tomato plants, for example, that are donated to other gardeners. Another helper at the garden, Delores Menifee, does most of the watering because she lives across the street from the garden.
It’s a system Dershem wishes more people would take advantage of, especially groups trying to reinvent the wheel in gardening. She encouraged groups wanting to do a garden with members or youth to consider using the LACNIP gardens, because they are established.