This will be my fourth spring at Center of Grace Community Garden. Other gardens have been popping up all over town during the past few years, but this is my favorite. This one is special.
Although there might be bigger gardens, Center of Grace has character—sort of reminds me of a picnic blanket spread out on a sunny bit of park lawn. A safe haven for budding gardeners and their crops.
Some of the plots are used for Center of Grace activities, such as ESL and Boy’s and Girl’s Club. Some of the produce goes to the community dinners that Center of Grace hosts on Wednesdays. The entire garden got a makeover last year, when some area businesses and Boy Scout Troop 86 pitched in. After requesting and getting funds from Olathe City Council, the scouts also negotiated with a local company to obtain lumber for new composting bins. The beds have been improved, too: deeper, and with soil and compost provided by local sponsors. There is now a new gate, landscaping, and a concrete block entryway leading to the freshly-mulched (and very fragrant) paths between the plots.
To me, one of the most valuable assets to the garden is the Master Gardener volunteers who devote time every week. Sometimes there will be three or four of them available. They answer questions, try to figure out some pesky bug problem, maybe smile when shown a mess of freshly-harvested beets. Sometimes, they simply visit. No time ever goes to waste in thisgarden.
Over the past year, there had been times when I just couldn’t get to Center of Grace. And I was concerned about the plot—especially during those ugly weeks of hot-and-dry. Although I was eventually able to get out and make my way to my plot, I was certain that everything would be either wilted or crispy–maybe both. Instead, I discovered that someone (maybe several someones) had come to water—and not just their own plot. All of them. I know that it must have taken the better part of their morning. That is the description of a gardener at heart.
I like walking around and looking at the other plots. Each one is as unique as the gardener who tends it. In addition to the ever-present tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, other crops—herbs, asparagus, beans, peas, squash, even radishes and leafy greens find their way here. You can almost tell where you are by closing your eyes and taking a sniff. My favorite gardener plants zinnias every year. Their spicy perfume is unmistakable.
The very best part? Admiring the dirt under my fingernails at the end of the day.
– Article by Don Bowman