Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Garden grown community
The Mt. Pleasant community benefits from the Fellowship Cup community garden.
Apr. 20, 2022 8:17 am
Mt. Pleasant has a thriving community garden located on Jackson Street across from the fire station.
Beginning April 15 those who have previously tended to plots in the garden were given the opportunity to claim their spots for this growing season.
May 1 unclaimed plots will be available for newcomers.
June 1 gardeners will be given the opportunity to claim an additional plot.
The community garden is a community outreach program maintained by The Fellowship Cup.
There is no cost to claim a plot other than the gardener’s choices in seed, plants, and potential topsoil.
While gardeners are welcome to plant whatever they like, it is encouraged, but not required, for extras to be donated to The Fellowship Cup.
Water, some tools, and trellises are provided on the community garden property for participant use.
Gardeners also encouraged to use minimal pesticides within the community garden and are taught alternative methods to discourage weeds from growing.
There are a total of 35 plots, nine of which are raised beds built by Master Gardener Chuck Albright.
By Albright’s best guess he has been overseeing and maintaining the community garden for the past 10 years.
He began this experience with the former Fellowship Cup director Melissa Barkwagner when the lot was donated to the organization by Paul Dennison.
Albright enjoys the community that gathers to garden and encourages others to seek out a plot even if they are not a well seasoned gardener.
Many have been educated on various gardening practices under Albright’s instruction.
One method that former agriculture professor Albright teaches the community gardeners is square-foot gardening.
According to Better House Keeping square-foot gardening is basically when you take a small garden bed and divide it into a grid of single square feet.
Each foot is considered it’s own separate space.
Seeds or seedlings of each vegetable are planted in the desired amount of squares based on a density according to plant size.
An example for one square foot would be to plant either one tomato plant or 16 radish seeds.
Albright says that square-foot gardening helps gardeners be more intentional with how much they are planting so there is less waste.
The square-foot gardening method is attributed to Mel Bartholomew.
“A lot of experimentation over the years,” Albright says has informed his gardening knowledge and opinions.
Albright said he used to teach his college agriculture students, “If you want it in your garden it is not a weed. If you don’t want it. It is a weed. A cornstalk in a soybean field is a weed.”
Weed management skills are commonly taught to the community gardeners by Albright.
“It is weed management because the goal is to reduce loss of wanted produce or reduce the ability of weeds to go to seed,” Albright said.
According to Albright, in previous years the nonprofit group Nutrimos has tended to 9 or 10 plots and donated the food grown to the Presbyterian church’s food pantry.
Community gardens are proven to be a benefit to the communities they serve.
An improvement in overall community nutrition flourishes with the use of community gardens.
According to studies done by the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University households with at least one member of a community garden consume more fruits and vegetables daily.
The same study found that adults in these households were 3.5 times more likely to eat fruits and vegetables at least fives in a day.
Albright says that he has seen the community garden improve the overall community as well because it is an opportunity for people to get out and actively do something healthy.
The Fellowship Cup community garden has also benefited the community by renovating a once vacant lot.
Because vacant lots can attract undesirable gatherings and create an atmosphere of abandonment in a neighborhood community gardens are a benefit.
According to North Carolina’s extension office “Gardens in low-income neighborhoods were four times as likely as non low-income gardens to lead to other issues in the neighborhood being addressed; reportedly due to organizing facilitated through the community gardens.”
Community gardens such as the Fellowship Cup’s in Mt. Pleasant benefit the communities in which they are planted by making fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable and accessible as well.
Those who have not taken the opportunity to take part in the community garden in the past can reach out to the Fellowship Cup office by calling (319) 385-3242