A trio of Marion High School juniors approached Marion City Council on Monday to seek help in starting a community garden at the former Saddle Club building.
The FFA officers, accompanied by supervisor Mark Meyer, said they planned to use the garden as a community service project to donate 50 percent of its produce to Marion County Resource Center and Food Bank.
“We’re always looking for ways to help the food bank,” Kaitlyn Goebel said. “We’ve already helped some, but we feel if we do this, we could help a lot more.”
The group said it plans to seek advice from Hillsboro resident Phoebe Janzen, who was a driving force behind a community garden in Florence.
“The first thing we need from you is your support both through promotion — this is for the community, and we need to make sure they know that — and also in case we do not get enough funding for the project, some financial support,” Cade Harms said.
The group has two grants pending, Harms said, and is searching for more. One grant is for $2,500 and the other is a competitive grant offering a first prize of $3,000, with second and third receiving $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.
Aidan Cairns said the group planned to store water regularly flushed from the water tower near the site to water the garden.
The group also asked for city assistance in getting the site ready for irrigation, as the dirt in that area is bowl-shaped.
“We have done a site visit, and it appears it will take four to six hours with two loaders,” city administrator Roger Holter said. “From the city’s standpoint, you’d just be authorizing the use of equipment. We could eliminate the bowl and make it drain to the southeast.”
City council members enthusiastically approved the project.
“Roger will love this. Kaitlyn, when you’re working on your grant stuff, go talk to Roger, he’d love to help you out,” Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said.
“If you’re really good at it,” Holter offered, “I’ve got a street project you could help out with.”
Goebel was unpersuaded.
“I don’t know about that,” she said.