Residents give community a chance to show green thumb

Like fresh vegetables, but have no place to grow them? Now, everyone can have a garden, starting this weekend if the weather cooperates.
That’s right.
In an effort to help people be more self-sufficient, to have the opportunity to grow some of their own food, and to teach children about gardening, Frank Brooks and Bill and Patti Bamman are offering a Community Garden to anyone that wishes to participate.
“The economy isn’t so hot right now, and with food prices going up we thought it’d be a good thing,” said Frank Brooks of Richmond. Brooks has been gardening for years, but said, “I’m not a master gardener. I just have access to people with ag degrees.”
The Bammans are offering the three-four acres of very fertile, prime pastureland behind their home to those that want to grow their own food. When the Bammans heard Brooks talk about his vision of a community garden, they wanted to get involved and wanted the land used for such a worthwhile purpose.
“Everyone can have their own spot, or they can join in on a big garden,” said Brooks. “So far, 23 adults from the neighborhood want to be a part of one big garden to share. Some people just want to donate money for it. One family of four has already claimed their spot.”
There are some rules. No stealing, and be fair. No selling the produce. It’s for individuals and families to enjoy fresh, healthy produce for their own meals. In the fall, everyone needs to clean their garden or help in the big garden to clean it up for the next year.
Gardeners can use their own tiller on the individual/family gardens, however, there are no plans to plow for the large garden, as plans are to go organic there.
“It’s called a ‘lasagna garden,’” said Brooks. “No weeding is necessary. It’s done in layers on top of the ground. I’ll mow it, then lay two to three layers of newspaper down. The water-based ink doesn’t let any pollutants or insecticides get into the food. Next comes the soil and then mulch.”
The soil will come from an individual who owns land in the bottoms.
He was quick to note that more newspapers are needed, will not cut into local efforts in recycling, and will only be needed prior to getting all of the vegetables into the ground.
During dry spells, Brooks has 55-gallon drums ready to go to transport water to the garden.
“We’ll have one space just for melons, late potatoes and squash,” Brooks continued. “We may be transplanting wild strawberries along the edges of the property to see how they do. Wild strawberries grow really big.
A compost pile will be established in the middle of the property and people may bring food scraps (no meat) to put into it.
“There’s lots of areas for people to do this. Everyone can have their own little spot if they want. In the big garden, we’ll be growing just about everything – lots of herbs, tomatoes, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas and maybe some corn,” said Brooks.
The garden can benefit the community in another way too.
“Any overflow produce, especially after it gets established, will be taken to shut-ins around town. Contact your local church or me and let us know about you,” Brooks said. “We hope to be able to do this every year.
Brooks has also planned a children’s garden, where approximately 15 children ages two to thirteen, can plant whatever they want and learn about gardening.
“I have two adult volunteers to keep an eye on the kids on Saturday when they plant,” said Brooks.
So, where does the seed come from? The whole process has been well planned.
“Larry’s True Value is helping us with plants, seeds and fertilizer. It all depends on how many people want to do this,” said Brooks. “Other businesses have agreed to help and if any organizations or businesses want to join in, they are welcome.”
Anyone who does not wish to have their own garden, but wish to help, Brooks has a great idea for those with garden knowledge.
“I would love to have some older people to come and share their knowledge with the families and teach the kids too. Give pointers and share old gardening tricks, plus there’s the camaraderie,” he replied.
Already with a vision of the future in his mind, Brooks shared what he would like to see happen.
“We want to make places for people to sit and have walkways. We’ll plant some fruit trees and hang bird feeders along the row of big trees. We’ll feed the squirrels and raccoons too, to keep them out of the garden,” Brooks said. “We’d like to have a flower garden, too. Maybe we’ll have a Saturday or Sunday luncheon sometime.”
In the meantime, the success of this project/dream/opportunity is totally dependent on the number of people willing to roll up their sleeves and be involved.
Watch for the sign to appear near the 400 block of Lexington Street in Richmond. Made by Frank Brooks of Signs & Wonders, it will read: Richmond Bountiful Community Garden.
“Call to come and pick your spot,” said Brooks. If you don’t want to garden, but enjoy talking to others about it, be a mentor or advisor for those that are trying this out. “If we have many people and we need more land, that has already been taken care of too.”
It’s not too late to get in on the project. The ground is just getting dry enough in many areas to get in and plant.
“Mother Nature hasn’t cooperated with us much. Farmers barely have corn in the ground,” said Brooks. “I think this is the first community garden in Richmond. The only other place is a small plot in Hardin.”
Give Frank Brooks a call, at 816-776-7133, to learn more about the Richmond Bountiful Community Garden, to offer suggestions or to volunteer, or to pick out a spot. Parking for gardeners is available along the street.

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