Rio ‘Sow’ Grande


Rio Grande community garden set to open spring 2022

By Brittany Hively - bhively@aimmediamidwest.com



The currently plan for the Rio Grande Community Garden that will have raised garden beds, a children’s area and other additions.

The currently plan for the Rio Grande Community Garden that will have raised garden beds, a children’s area and other additions.


Clarissa Carroll | Courtesy

The lot that will house the Rio Grande Community Garden, set to open in spring 2022.


Clarissa Carroll | Courtesy

RIO GRANDE — The Village of Rio Grande has seen a plethora of change throughout the year. From the Renew Rio projects to the ‘Grande’ Christmas tree lighting and now the village has a community garden in the works.

“I had mentioned to the mayor how cool it would be to have a community garden,” said Clarissa Carroll, owner of Maple Hill Farm Stand. “Just, you know, some people could grow things and do stuff and learn from each other.”

Carroll said Mayor Matt Easter, mentioned the idea to the Renew Rio sponsor, who soon became a donor for the community garden.

The goal for the community garden is to have a place that is completely accessible to everyone, Carroll said.

Easter said he hopes the garden will be educational and useful for schools too.

“I’m hoping that this can be an educational piece for kids, bringing them back into showing how things grow. I welcome the schools to utilize this,” Easter said.

Carroll owns Maple Hill Farm Stand and said during the summer she spends a lot of time outside in the garden along with her two kids.

Owning the farm allowed Carroll to place food at the end of her driveway for people for a “donation” but she said she always knew she wanted to do something bigger for and with the community.

“It’s not really a traditional farm, I mostly focus on growing my family’s food,” Carroll said. “When talking to all my friends, I go, yeah my kids just like play outside all summer and I garden and I do all this. With the apartments, I have friends that live there or live in other places where they don’t have access to that. Or they rent and the homeowners don’t want them to do that.”

After hearing her friends say they would love to do what Carroll does each summer, she realized that her kids were lucky.

“I thought about how lucky my kids were to be able to do that and experience that kind of thing,” Carroll said. “Not that everyone needs to, but that’s what kind of started this. I was like, everyone should be able to do that, every kid should be able to do that, every adult who doesn’t have access to that should be able to do that. And [it] just kind of took off from there.”

Carroll said the mission of the garden is to “have free or low cost food supplies accessible” to everyone and help provide a food source in this part of Appalachia.

“The hope is that people can plant whatever type of food they want,” Carroll said. “If they don’t know what grows here or whatever, they can team up with other folks and say, ‘well, I think I want to try this, or I’ve never eaten this. Does this grow well here? Can we plant it? Can we find out?’”

Carroll said the project is meant to be both food and education.

The garden will have a set of basic rules, but Carroll said she does not want to impose too many rules and deter people from using the garden.

“I don’t feel like having a community space with a lot of restrictions is really beneficial to the people that want to enjoy it,” Carroll said. “The more restrictions you put in place, personally, I believe the more fear there is around wanting to take the initiative to do things in it.”

Carroll wants to encourage people to use the garden.

“Because we’re a food desert, low-income area, we want to encourage as many people as possible to come and we don’t want to have barriers that keep people from coming,” Carroll said.

The community garden will have a number of different areas including 32-inch raised garden beds, 17-inch raised garden beds and a children’s area with shorter beds.

“We’re going to create a children’s area that has a couple of smaller beds. We have some large stones being donated, sort of like a tabletop and two little stone chair area, so kids can play,” Carroll said. “In the small garden beds, they can take in dirt, play with flowers.”

Carroll said this gives the children their own area to do things. She also said this is another area for those that may live in apartments or somewhere digging/gardening is not allowed.

“We want to make sure that people who want the opportunity to have that can have that, even if they can’t have it where they’re currently living. They can still have access to that in some way,” Carroll said.

Easter said the design is more than a functional piece.

“My hope, by the design of fit, it is that not only is this a functional garden, but this is also an art piece for our community,” Easter said. “Because the design of it is very artistic, it’s fun [and] has a lot of art elements in it. That’s what I’m most excited about, not only a cool place for the community to go and act as kind of a park, but the ability to work together to grow produce and flowers, but also aesthetically pleasing.”

Carroll said everyone in the community has been supportive of the project, many who will be helping donate hours to the garden each week.

“So, if I say, ‘hey, I’m going to be here Wednesday,’ and say you’re someone who doesn’t know how to garden or has no idea where to start, I say I’m going to be here so if you want me to help you or give you any information or you just want to watch and see what I’m doing, great,” Carroll said. “There’s a lot of people in the community that seem to feel that way, they want to work in it, but they also want to help people who don’t have access to that knowledge.”

“We always want people to reach out and help and we don’t want anyone to feel bad if they can’t help,” Carroll said. “The biggest thing is if you want something from the garden, you should come and get it, whether you can help with it or not, you should come and get it. Because that’s what the point is, it’s to make things accessible for everyone.”

The garden will be located in a lot near the municipal building. It is currently set to open in the spring of 2022.

Easter said they hope to break ground in January after the building on the lot next to the community space is complete.

Along with the Renew Rio sponsor, Carroll said Ohio Valley Bank has donated two large wheelbarrows; Second Wave Creations is donating the time to do art around the garden and Amy Holzer Irvin made a donation. Carroll said there are a number of local businesses and community members pitching in to make the project possible through donating time, money and/or materials.

There is currently a gofundme listed as “Help Appalachian Community Garden” to help collect donations for garden equipment and a possible small storage shed, Carroll said.

Those who wish to keep up with the garden can join the Facebook group, “Sow Grande Community Garden.”

© 2021, Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

The currently plan for the Rio Grande Community Garden that will have raised garden beds, a children’s area and other additions.
https://www.mydailytribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/42/2021/12/web1_268918673_1277407682772824_189797774138757690_n-1.jpgThe currently plan for the Rio Grande Community Garden that will have raised garden beds, a children’s area and other additions. Clarissa Carroll | Courtesy

The lot that will house the Rio Grande Community Garden, set to open in spring 2022.
https://www.mydailytribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/42/2021/12/web1_269680234_1132204633983260_4189284734976213100_n-1.jpgThe lot that will house the Rio Grande Community Garden, set to open in spring 2022. Clarissa Carroll | Courtesy
Rio Grande community garden set to open spring 2022

By Brittany Hively

bhively@aimmediamidwest.com

Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.

Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.