By Randy Parks
After growing and dispersing more than 1,600 pounds of produce, the first year of the Community Garden project would have to be called a success.
Community in Action Program Manager Peggy Yarbor said she and a number of volunteers began setting up the garden in the fall last year, but the early snowfall cut their work short.
Undeterred, the group broke ground this past spring, staking out plots, installing a watering system, weeding and planting vegetables. Volunteers put in more than 750 hours of work on the garden, and the harvest included beets, bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini, cabbage, eggplant, kohlrabi, lettuce, onions, pattypan squash, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, peas and tomatoes.
Of the food collected, 272 pounds was donated to the Burns/Hines school lunch program, 882 pounds to the Harney County Senior Center meal program, 432 pounds to the Harney County Food Bank and 38 pounds to the HHOPE shelter.
The pumpkins raised were sold at the Farmers Market this fall to help offset costs.
Along with the food raised for the community, five 6×20 plots were rented out by individuals.
Yarbor said the community garden received $2,008 in donations and proceeds from the rentals and sales, and expenses were $1,239.81. “So that wasn’t bad for the first year,” she said.
Dick Day, a volunteer from the start, stated, “I wasn’t displeased with the results. It was late getting planted because of the weather and the fact we had to install the water system, but it went pretty well for gardening in Harney County. It could have been better, but it was what it was.”
Day said that they plan to install a drip-line for better gardening and refine the selection of what to grow. “If we grow crops like lettuce and radishes, we can get a 30-day turnaround,” Day said. “And plant other crops too, like carrots.”
Yarbor said they were grateful for the help they got from volunteers and the Faith Baptist Church group, but she encouraged more involvement from the community. “We could always use more,” she said. “We’re going to try and get more youth involved, like the FFA program.”
They are also going to try and get the Master Gardener program offered through the Oregon State University Extension Service up and running next fall. “We hope to get a number of people interested in taking the course because that will expand the knowledge for everyone,” Day said.
The group is planning to hold one more work-day to spread a load of fertilizer donated by the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center.
If you would like get involved, contact Day at 541-573-7481.