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Growing a garden

July 4, 2011

Courtney Hamel tends to her plot in a community garden set up by the Wapakoneta High School FFA. Staff photo/Karen Campbell

Tending to plants including tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, beans and corn, a Wapakoneta teenager says a garden in a community plot behind the local high school is teaching her responsibility.
In the mornings, her friend, Megan Steinke, waters and cares for the plants, and in the evenings, it’s Courtney Hamel. The two Wapakoneta High School junior FFA members thought it would be a neat experience taking care of their own garden in newly dedicated community plots.
“So far, our plants aren’t growing like the others are but we started later, it’s just taking a while,” Courtney said.
Typically planting a garden at her grandmother’s house, Courtney opted to use the school’s space this year as part of a summer record keeping project for FFA.
“It takes a lot of time and patience,” Courtney said of the project so far.
Since they used their own plants and are putting their time into helping them grow, Courtney said they really feel responsible for how they turn out.
If everything goes as hoped, she and Megan have talked about taking the vegetables they raise to sell at the Wapakoneta Farmer’s Market.
A $500 donation from Scotts Programs was used as start up money to begin the community gardens behind the high school.
Wapakoneta FFA Adviser Chris Turner attended a seminar in Columbus to learn more about the idea behind the program and to receive the financial support.
Scotts provided fertilizer, potting soil and premixed garden soil to help get the garden going with additional resources offering more dirt for the project. Wood planks were used as a boarder around the outside edges and to divide each plot in the community garden.
In addition to Megan and Courtney, a couple teachers have plots, and the Garden Club has a couple plots. In total, the garden features six different 10-foot square plots.
Turner said it would be nice if some of what is being grown could make it to community food banks.
“This year we were just trying to get the community garden started,” Turner said. “It may be something we could continue to expand upon.”
Wapakoneta High School’s Community Garden is part of a goal by the Scotts Miracle-Gro company to establish 1,000 community gardens throughout the United States by 2018.
Turner said the Scotts company has provided all kinds of ideas to improve gardens as they are established. The two teens’ effort is part of a larger push for organizations and communities, even schools, to grow produce locally.
“For us it’s neat because we grow some things in the green house, but students can see more of the process, including the end product this way, as we move those things out into a garden behind the green house,” Turner said. “It’s neat for the kids, a lot of whom don’t get an opportunity like this.”

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