Washington community members beginning to plan community garden for Spring 2020

Washington community members are looking for ways to make the town healthier and more active, and have come up with an idea for a community garden, to be installed in spring 2020.

Wellness Commission Board Member Sarah Grunewaldt said the talk stemmed from a Facebook post from the LET’s Center. She said the goal of the wellness coalition is to promote aspects of community health, and the community garden fit well with the mission.

The commission began moving forward with the project and has toured around town with the parks department, as well as spoken with the city about options for a possible location. At this time, there is no set place for the garden, as the group is still working out details of how the garden would operate.

Currently, there are three options for the garden. One would be to have a plot of land where the community would plant food or flowers, another where individuals could rent a designated section to grow whatever they choose and a third option would allow for a combination of the first two ideas. In the third option, consumers could potentially rent a portion of the land as well as another portion designated for community purposes.

According to their website, the Wellness Commission, which works through Washington County Public Health, is focused on providing healthy foods and physical activity to community members. They are involved with a variety of activities in the county such as food demonstrations at the farmers market, working with HACAP and the ongoing project of creating shared bike lanes, sharrows, on select public streets.

Maddie Widmer, of Washington, saw the original Facebook post and has been involved with the process of establishing the community garden. Widmer said she feels it’s important to establish healthy relationships with food and activities among other community members.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re all about. It matters that you have access to healthy food and this is one way we can try to accomplish some of that,” she said. “I think it also matters because it helps nurture the love of gardening, which we know in this day and age, being so convenience oriented ... you don’t want to take the time to pick out healthier foods. If we can start to cultivate that love of gardening and taking pride in what you eat because you grew it yourself, I think it’s really, really important in creating a healthy lifestyle.

Grunewaldt said the community garden would also allow for people who do not have the access to grow, the ability to do so. She said it is also important for social and mental health as it allows people not only an opportunity, but a reason to be outside.

“You get to meet new people, learn from each other, build that sense of community. The more you invest, the better everyone does,” she said.

The garden is being designed with the whole community in mind, she said, explaining ease of access and mobility are being taken into consideration to ensure every member of the community who would like to participate is able to.

Widmer said she hopes by creating the garden, individuals in the community will have an opportunity to interact more and create bonds and friendships.

“I think it would help create a better sense of understanding. The more that you hear people’s stories, the better you can understand and empathize with them, what they’re going through and maybe some of the decisions that they’ve made because you see why they’ve made some of those decisions and I think that will create a stronger community bond,” she said. “I think it’s really important that people are heard and that they have a place to be heard as well.”

Anyone seeking to be involved with the community garden may contact Widmer at:, Grunewaldt at 319-653-3918, Washington County Public Health Director Danielle Pettit-Majewski at 319-653-7758.