Sep. 21—BROOKVILLE — A mini grant and many local helping hands have transformed two greenspaces in Franklin County into community gardens.
Discussions about creating a community garden began in September 2021, and a year later the gardens are playing host to community celebrations.
Franklin County received a mini grant from the Purdue Extension Nutrition Education Program and Masters Gardeners to create community-based gardens aimed at increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables for families experiencing poverty in Indiana.
Becky Marvel, NEP Community Wellness Coordinator, and Veronica Bullock, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for Purdue Extension Franklin County, partnered with the Franklin County Public Library District, Growing Laurel, and other partners to create a community-based garden in Lew Wallace Park and at Laurel Library.
Bullock said the purpose of the gardens is to provide nutrition and garden education, and to donate food that is grown to local food pantries to increase the availability of healthy foods to local families.
The Laurel Harvest Celebration was held September 8 at the Laurel Library and saw more than 200 community members. Attendees enjoyed food, activities, food demonstrations, garden tours, and many local and regional non-profits were there to showcase their services to the community. Senator Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) was also in attendance to learn more about the community gardens.
“Being at the Laurel celebration, I would have never thought that in one year it would have been possible to have the garden let alone the celebration,” said Bullock. “It’s been super rewarding.”
Bullock added it was exciting to have Senator Leising there to showcase what is going on in the community and what can happen when everyone works together.
“It started with the garden, but it’s expanded into so much more than that,” said Bullock. “It’s about community pride.”
There were many people and organizations who made the Laurel Harvest Celebration possible including the Franklin County Public Library District, Growing Laurel, Laurel Community Center, Head Start, Gleaners, Girl Scouts, Reach Community Church, beekeeper Mike Bentz, Laurel Town Council, Kona Ice, Laurel Fire Department, Purdue Extension Franklin County 4-H and ANR, and Purdue Extension Nutrition Education Program.
Bullock hopes the success of the Laurel celebration carries over into the Growing Together Gardens Celebration which will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. September 27 in the Lew Wallace Park at the Franklin County Government Center.
The theme for this celebration is art and gardening. The event is free to the public and will have a petting zoo, activities for the whole family, food, and will showcase the community partners and volunteers.
“I hope that everyone who has been involved feels appreciated and feel that they have played a large role,” said Bullock.
Those hoping to get involved with in the community gardens can do so by reaching out to Purdue Extension Franklin County via phone 765-647-3511 or by emailing Bullock at email@example.com. — Information provided