Archived Story

Lecture discusses community garden

Published 9:02am Friday, February 8, 2013

In a time of aging farmers, when the secrets of growing a good tomato are fading, the spirit of eating food nurtured by an average person’s own two hands is beginning to make a comeback as community gardens make their way into the spotlight of community betterment.

The Ironton In Bloom organization hosted a lecture on the importance of community gardening presented by Melissa Stewart at the Ohio University Southern Rotunda in Ironton Tuesday evening.

Stewart, agriculture and natural resources extension service specialist for West Virginia State University, said she was happy to take the time to speak at OU and give advice to Ironton in Bloom as they continue their preparations of building a local community garden.

“I think it’s not only on the side of the production of fresh fruits and vegetables and being able to feed our population and make us more sustainable and stand-alone,” Stewart said. “It’s also the idea of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles, not only for adults and the elderly, but also for our kids.”

Teaching younger generations that they can produce fresh produce in their own backyards goes a long way to prepare them to take care of themselves if anything were to ever happen which caused food to be in short supply, Stewart said.

The garden will be on the corner of Seventh St. and Adams Street, the location chosen as Ironton In Bloom’s first community garden due to the location of high-rise metropolitan housing, said Carol Allen, Ironton In Bloom president.

“The reason we wanted Melissa here is because we are starting our own community garden here in May,” Allen said. “As much help as we can get in the organizational process the easier it will be for us. She can save us lots and lots of turmoil with the information we receive. What to look out for, what to plan for, the importance of asking those participating what they want and what works best for them. We will take that information and tailor it to what works best for us.

“We need to go to the neighborhood and invite as many people as possible to come and join us and give their input,” Allen said. “They can create a new community of those who will participate in the garden in May.”

Allen said the garden is a cooperative project with Ironton in Bloom, the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital and other community-minded organizations dedicated to making a better Ironton.

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital and Bon Secours Health System donated the necessary funds to make the community garden project a reality. Diva Justice, director of the healthy community initiative for the hospital, said the hope is to be able to bring something positive to the community that was not there before.

“The sisters of Bon Secours are very community-minded,” Justice said. “They encourage the hospital to go out into the community and work with them on what they want to do. We received a grant of $50,000 last year and one of $48,000 this year to help fund various projects in the Ironton community.”

The community garden is being funded by those grants, Justice said.

Justice said she has been approached by multiple senior citizens with stories of longing for the days of their youth when they would work the dirt to grow their own food.

Eating fruits and vegetables personally raised will stop being limited to memory for some after the garden opens for planting in May.

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