Sense of community blossoms in Common Good’s garden

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

The Common Good’s community garden at Peace Lutheran Church grows the usual beans, tomatoes, lettuce and eggplants. It also grows a sense of community.

The produce that grows in the 3,500-square-foot plot can nourish a body. It can also nourish a sense of being connected to the earth.

A core group of 15 people cultivate the plot so what grows there can be shared with everyone.

The community garden was inspired by a cultural immersion trip to Mexico in 2008, said Megan Sunderland, director of the Common Good, a community and spiritual development center.

The students came back stuffed with food for thought about globalization, access to land for gardens, and access to nutritious food.

They also were committed to doing more than thinking about the issue. They were ready to get their hands dirty planting the seeds of action locally.

The idea for the community garden grew from that.

Sutherland said they approached Pastor Deb Conklin of Peace Lutheran about using some of the space on the church’s property between Pearl and West Wooster streets.

The church was interested in the collaboration, providing the garden space, a tools and a place to store them, and access to the church.

All this is in keeping with the creation care that’s a central tenet of the church’s mission.

The core of about 15 people who regularly show up for planting, weeding and harvesting have a variety of motivations. Some are interested in sustainable agriculture, others in providing space so anyone can garden, and others providing quality food to the community.

On Memorial Day Weekend, the garden is taking shape. The plants that the group got from Toledo Grows, a project of the Toledo Botanical Garden, are in place, and now seeds of being sown in the soil. The first crop of weeds is being removed. One corner will be cultivated with plants to attract local pollinators, bees and butterflies.

The garden will be surrounded by sunflowers and marigolds.

The garden has both a lot of produce people especially like – tomatoes, lettuce, green beans – as well as eggplants, kale, radishes and peppers. They’ve also planted potatoes.

There’s also an abundance of herbs.

Anyone is free to stop by and pick, and anyone is free to stop by Saturday mornings from about 9 and until noon, to help maintain the garden.

New this year, will be a cart that can display the produce that’s been harvested.

The cart is the latest project done for the garden by a 1910 first year course on community engagement taught by Sara Khorshidifard, an architecture professor at Bowling Green State University.

In the past the class has built information boards for the community garden site for posting updates on what’s ready to pick and other information.

The cart was this year’s project, Khorshidifard said.

At first the idea was for a structure like farm stand to display produce. One of the students, however, had the idea of making it mobile.

This will allow it to be brought to various sites in town, including apartment complexes, to share the garden’s harvest.

Sutherland also would like to be moving around to service clubs and others groups to spread the word.

Those interested in more information about the community garden can call 419-806-4407 or visiting www.commongoodbg.org.

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