Y seeks input for garden project

The Callaway County YMCA is asking area residents for feedback about its new community garden project, being organized in conjunction with the City of Fulton.

The project is part of the Pioneering Healthy Communities grant the YMCA and city worked together to garner in 2009, which helps fund projects to build healthier communities.

“The Centers for Disease Control has identified the top five things they believe communities can do to decrease the obesity epidemic, and one of the ways is to increase the availability of fresh produce,” said Callaway Y Executive Director Patty Miller.

Callaway YMCA intern Mike Towle said although they have several potential sites in mind for the community garden, there are not currently any concrete plans.

“As of right now we’re trying to see what people are interested in and where would work for them,” Towle said.

“We’re trying to figure out where the best place would be and see how everybody wants the garden to work.”

He said Heirloom Acres out of New Bloomfield has offered to donate all of the seeds needed, although organizers have not yet decided whether the garden should be operated as individual plots maintained by participants or as one large plot maintained by all involved.

Miller said the reason for the apparent lack of organization is that she wants the community garden to function how users want it to function, thus making it more likely to succeed.

“We’re really trying to start it from the grass roots level. We’re truly in the planning stages and we want people to get involved that are going to use the garden,” Miller said. “We’re trying to find out who’s interested, who’s committed to participate and structure it in a way they want to use it.

“We want to let them tell us. It’s a long-term project and we want to do it right.”

Miller encouraged anyone interested in getting involved with a community garden, or with ideas on how the garden should operate and where it should be, to contact her at the YMCA at (573) 642-1065.

“We are probably going to collect names over the next two weeks and have a town hall meeting pretty quickly,” Miller said. “I want to hear from people who say, ‘I would love to have access to a place where I can grow fresh tomatoes.’

“It’s not going to cost them anything but the fruits of their labors, and access to fresh fruits and vegetables is invaluable.”

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