There was a lot of activity at West Central Community Garden on a recent Wednesday morning. Volunteers from Whitworth Institute of Ministry were all over the garden, pulling weeds, straightening fence posts, digging ditches for irrigation pipe and building frames for new beds.
“The new beds were donated by St. Stephens Church,” said Peggy Johnson, garden coordinator. “These are eight smaller beds, and our goal is to get the irrigation put in and the dirt put in to them today.”
The garden is owned and operated by Trinity Neighborhood Resources which is Holy Trinity Episcopal Church’s neighborhood action program.
The garden stretches across two city lots between Dean and Garden avenues, east of North Elm Street and, until recently, it did not have a fence.
“It was a problem that people would cut through the garden, and we had some minor vandalism,” Johnson said. “Ziggy’s sold the fencing materials to us at cost. We are very grateful for that.”
This garden is large, compared to some of the other community gardens, and features 45 established raised beds plus the smaller beds that are being added.
“Three years ago we started with just three beds on the grounds of the parish hall,” Johnson said. “They mostly had herbs in them.”
Most of the beds are cultivated by church members, including a large cross-shaped raised bed that’s surrounded by rocks outlining a somewhat weed-challenged meditation labyrinth.
“Maybe you can’t see it,” said Johnson, “but we actually see people walk it and use it.”
The north end of the lot is fallow.
Johnson said they hope to turn it into a gathering space, perhaps with a lawn or some other low groundcover that would help keep the weeds down.
The vegetables from the church-cultivated beds go to a free Wednesday night dinner the church has hosted for years.
“We believe in taking care of hunger in West Central,” Johnson said.
She got involved with the community garden in spring 2011, because the garden needed a go-to person. Johnson is also the bishop’s warden of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.
The West Central Community Garden’s biggest challenge is to get gardeners from the neighborhood involved.
“We have six neighborhood gardeners, but we could easily fit 20 or 30 neighborhood gardeners in here,” Johnson said. She adds that West Central is a “show me” neighborhood and that neighbors typically don’t get involved in a project until it is successful.
When asked if the West Central Community Garden needs donations of anything, Johnson hesitates.
Last year the garden put out a call for mulch, pine straw and grass clippings for weed control in the aisles between beds.
“We were inundated. We got so much we couldn’t move around here, because people just dumped it off,” Johnson said. To avoid being overwhelmed again, Johnson asks that anyone interested in volunteering or donating materials to the garden call or email in advance.
“Volunteer help would be lovely,” Johnson said. “We could use some help.”