Ideas Taking Root at Community Garden

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Community Garden
Arya Shakya, 22 months, takes a break on the hay bales at Lovin' Spadefuls, the Hermiston Community Garden. The hay bales will become part of raised garden beds.
PHOTOS BY JENNIFER COLTON

On Saturday morning, volunteers and gardeners began preparing a plot of land behind Good Shepherd Medical Center to become Lovin’ Spadefuls, the Hermiston community garden.

For $10, community members can claim a 12-foot-by-12-foot plot to plant and cultivate their own crops, and Lovin’ Spadefuls will debut two new community features this year, as well.

Right now, one of the new features looks like a stack of hay bales, but it will become a way for those with mobility issues to enjoy the benefits of the garden. The Hermiston Diabetes Support Group is handling the hay bale planters.

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Heather Smart of Hermiston donned overalls to help with the Lovin’ Spadefuls Community Garden work party on Saturday.
Marian Perdas, group facilitator, said the bales will be fertilized and plants planted directly inside. The plants then sprout out of the top of the bale, providing a relatively cheap raised bed.

“It’s nutritional eating. The vegetables and the herbs and everything are a primary concern for people with diabetes,” she said. “This is nutrition, it’s accessible, it’s environmental friendly, so it’s a win-win in many ways.

The bales also model what residents can do in their own homes. Perdas said bales are a cheap form of raised bed and each will last about two years, at which point it can be composted.

“I’m excited because a lot of the people in the diabetes support group have mobility issues,” said Kathy Thomas, health educator at Good Shepherd Medical center. “This is one way they’re going to be able to improve their diet and get out more.”

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Students from Sandstone Middle School volunteered their time at the Lovin’ Spadefuls Community Garden work party.
This year is also the first time Lovin’ Spadefuls will have a community herb garden. Wendy Ross is coordinating the herb garden. She said she will not have enough time to manage her own plot this year, so she thought an herb garden would benefit the garden community and keep her involved.

“I love gardens, and I love herbs, so this seemed like a neat idea,” she said. “In the two years I’ve been involved with the community garden, I’ve met a number of people and I’ve been out in the fresh air. It’s a great way to build community.”

Many of the volunteers are gardeners returning for the second or third year, such as Suva Shakya of Hermiston. Shakya and his family will have two plots this year and pitched in on Saturday.

“We love gardening, and this brings people together. It’s good that the community is coming out and eating organic,” he said.

Heather Smart is also returning for the second year. This year she will be growing kolrabi, cucumber, peppers and tomatoes. She said she has already planted seeds at home and will be ready to bring her seedlings down to the garden.

“I think it’s a great idea,” she said. “I can’t wait.”

Plots are still available. Applications can be picked up at Mirasol Family Health Center, Umatilla-Morrow Head Start, the Hermiston Chamber Commerce and Good Shepherd Medical Center Education Department or online at the Garden Corner.

Interested gardeners are also encouraged to attend the next “work party” for the garden from 9 a.m. to noon, April 19.

For more information, contact Chelle Hankinson at 541-564-6878.

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