By PHYLLIS ZORN
Marion-Florence FFA brought in expert help Thursday in planning for a community garden at Marion.
Dave Buckley, an experienced community garden organizer who helped bring to life a Hutchinson community garden, spoke with Marion High School FFA members, school and city officials, extension agents, and community members.
FFA members are fleshing out their own plans and visions for the Marion project. Buckley told them how the Hutchinson community garden project works and how it grew from the seed of an idea to its current fruitful form.
The garden in Hutchinson began about nine years ago and now includes 247,000 square feet of land, Buckley said.
“Not all of it is planted,” he said.
The Hutchinson garden project makes use of corporate sponsorships, donations, and buy—in from various club, school, and community groups.
“We don’t have any sugar daddies, but there are lots of $50 donors,” Buckley said.
About 35 adult volunteers are on call for various tasks and students from third grade up participate in working the garden.
Only one volunteer has been lost – because he died, Buckley said.
“We don’t stress out our volunteers,” Buckley said.
The project has donated more than 4,000 pounds of produce to schools and Reno County Health Department.
Among the questions audience members posed were what kind of water the garden uses and how the water is delivered. Well water is pumped into an irrigation system, Buckley said.
Marion City Administrator Roger Holter said several McPherson entities are willing to help finance the Marion project.
“They’re out there, but remember that half a dozen $50 birds in the hand are worth more than one large grant proposal,” Buckley said.
FFA President Elizabeth Meyer said one thing the FFA is considering is assigning garden plots to local food bank patrons so they can grow produce to boost their food supplies.
Decisions still to be made include what crops to grow and how many plants, what kind of irrigation system to set up, what the labor schedule will be, and how to organize the labor so that workers are available during summer recess, Meyer said.