• Last modified 771 days ago (April 9, 2020)


Marion community garden set to expand

Staff writer

For the past five years, Marion’s community garden has supplied thousands of pounds of fresh, clean produce to Marion County’s food bank.

This year, manager Pam Byers plans to keep that promise and expand on it by extending the garden’s growing season well into fall.

It’s just her way of responding to the community during a time of need.

“People still need the food,” she said, of the COVID-19 epidemic that has shuttered many Main St. businesses and left residents struggling with layoffs.

She and a small group of volunteers have already raised beds, planted some seeds and put out onion sets and broccoli.

Disinfectant will be set out near the hose to sanitize garden tools, faucets and hands.

Volunteers are keeping their distance and showing up to help in smaller groups, she said.

Monday morning she and a young helper, Nobbie Eddens, 7, planted and watered spinach sets.

“I think the asparagus is almost coming up,” she said gently lifting the straw as her dog Bentley, pawed the ground and sniffed. “It started to come up and the weather got cold and it just quit.”

In just the second year of its planting, the small patch shot up stalks “as big as your thumb,” said Byers said.

The usual cornucopia of peppers, onions, tomatoes, corn, and sweet potatoes will be put in this year, but plantings will be staggered to extend the season.

“Last year we did not have a fall garden,” she said. “I have been listening to podcasts. I hope to have things planted in succession, so that when one crop is harvested, the next one will be ready to go in.”

Rows of broccoli will be taken over by cantaloupe. The raised patch for romaine lettuce will, perhaps, be planted with tomatoes and peppers after the lettuce bolts, she said.

Volunteers plan to leave donations of vegetables outside the food bank, so they can wash and distribute them.

“We will put them outside the door, and they can decide what to do,” she said.

She hopes people who are at looking for something to do will contact her. The community garden has a social media page.

“Last year we had four faithful volunteers,” she said. “The other day I posted and three new people showed up.”

Last modified April 9, 2020