POMEROY, Ohio — The Meigs County Farmers Market is spearheading an effort to introduce community gardens to the area with the recent construction of the first site at the Mulberry Community Center.
According to Market Director Stephanie Rife, the gardens are a way to give back to the community, and the first of many that are planned throughout the county.
“We are all about fresh food, not just having it available to purchase at the market, but also enabling people to grow their own, it is just part of our mission,” Rife said.
In an area known for farming, it was a given in past generations that everyone had a garden. Most children learned the necessary skills by working alongside their parents and grandparents, and were an essential part of caring for the gardens. It was common to pick vegetables in the morning that appeared on the dinner table that evening, and to preserve as many as possible for the winter months.
The advent of processed foods led many to discontinue their gardens in favor of the convince of picking it off the grocery shelves. This has led to lost knowledge, both of how to garden, and the importance of fresh vegetables in our diets. Community Gardens are a way of reintroducing gardening and making beds available to those who might not have access or the tools required to establish their own.
Market Secretary-Treasurer Dixie Hawthorn has been the driving force behind securing resources to build and maintain the gardens. Her efforts include obtaining a grant and organizing their construction.
Rife discussed the reasons for the selection of the Mulberry Community Center as the first site, and emphasized the market wants to include all parts of the county and has reached out to several to gauge interest.
“We reached out to several communities, but Pomeroy was the one that was most interested,” she said. “We are hopeful that the success of the garden here will be an example and that other communities will embrace the idea. We appreciate Pomeroy being the first, we will all learn a lot about the project that we can apply to our next gardens.”
She said the gardens in Pomeroy will be easy for the group to monitor given its proximity to the Mulberry Community Center.
“Peggy Crane, manager of the Community Kitchen, is here almost every day, so she will be in charge of the gardens. A benefit to having it located here is that it gives the kitchen gardens of its own from which to add to their menu and reduce their costs,” Rife said.
The Mulberry Country Kitchen is a nonprofit that provides meals to the community regardless of their ability to pay.
The construction of nine raised beds was accomplished by members of the market board and volunteers that included are Sam and Stephanie Rife, and daughters Halo, Phoebe, and Olivia, Jim and Dixie Hawthorn, Big Bend Beardsmen members Jason Underhill, Chris Burkhamer, and Beardsmen Joe Rosler. Crane and Ruth Werry volunteered their time to provide snacks and lunch for the workers.
Two of the beds will be for use by the kitchen, two are for the community to harvest, and the remaining beds and can be reserved.
“The two beds that are for the community will be marked and maintained by those who reserve the other beds, and they are literally for the community to harvest,” Hawthorn said.
To reserve a bed, contact Crane at 740-416-9272, or stop by the Mulberry Community Center Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
For other questions about the community gardens, or to discuss starting one in your area, contact the Meigs County Farmers Market by visiting: https://www.meigscountyfarmersmarket.com.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.