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Heading into its third year, the Grant County Distribution Garden has proven if you grow it, they will come.
The Grant County Fiscal Court, Grant County Extension Service, along with the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission and the Vineyard Church of Grant County, joined in May 2011 to plant a 1-acre community garden on the grounds of the county maintenance facility on Hopperton Lane in Dry Ridge.
The mission of the garden is to help feed those in need in Grant County, in particular seniors and low-income families.
The first year’s goal was to provide vegetables for at least 100 families.
In 2012, 238 bushels of vegetables were shared with 233 families in Grant County.
“It’s really taken off now,” said Vanessa Rose, Grant County community service coordinator.
With the help of master gardener Sharon Tepe and others, squash, lima beans, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and other vegetables were among the items grown at the garden.
Distribution locations include Corinth Senior Housing, Parkview Manor, Helton Heights housing units, High Street housing units, Williamstown Senior Center, NKCAC-Williamstown, Helping Hands, Meadowview Housing, Spears Soup Kitchen, Crittenden Senior Center and various other senior apartments.
Rose said she is excited about two new partners for this year’s garden that will bring a youth element to the project.
The Grant County High School Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) plans on offering cooking classes and recipes while the Williamstown High School Future Farmers of America will assist at two new gardens.
The new gardens will be located at Helton Heights (a 20 foot by 30-foot garden) and Parkview Manor (raised beds for herbs, garlic and onions.)
“We’re surveying and talking directly with the people about what they want in their garden,” Rose said. “The goal is we help them get it started and we eventually become advisors and they take ownership.”
The project has turned into a community-wide effort.
The county donated the land to utilize for the garden.
Williamstown Kiwanis provided a $200 grant, which was used to purchase a wagon.
Grant County Concrete is donating a building for storage at the distribution garden.
The group has also received a $1,000 grant from Dry Ridge Presbyterian Church and Grant County Soil Conservation helped with starter funds and continues with grant funding.
As the season approaches, Rose said she hopes even more volunteers help this year.
Grant County Community Service juveniles volunteered more than 650 hours in the garden last year.
Vineyard Church watched over several rows of tomatoes.
An Adopt-A-Row program allows youth groups, organizations or individuals to sponsor a row during the upcoming growing season.
The 18-week commitment for two hours per week would involve keeping the row clean from weeds and providing other needs.
“Another new thing is you can do a fundraiser to benefit your needs,” Rose said. “It’s called Care-it Forward. A group can pledge to work hours in the garden and then collect money from people. They keep all of the proceeds and we benefit from getting work done in the garden. Simon Kenton soccer teams in our first year raised $2,000 and they worked four hours.”
Plans are already underway for the new harvest and some seeds have been purchased.
Anyone who has used equipment, including rakes, hoes, water hoses and tobacco sticks, they would like to donate or is interested in volunteering or adopting a row can call 823-2345 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Grant County Distribution Garden, go to www.facebook.com/distributiongarden.
“It’s not a new concept,” Rose said. “It’s like you give them fish, they’ll eat it, but if you teach them to fish, they’ll never go hungry. It’s the same concept. The goal is for the people, and not us, to be doing all the work.”