Saturday, November 13, 2010
Garden flourishing this fall
By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
Changes are afoot — again — at Elm Creek Community Garden.
These most recent improvements come courtesy of a University of Kansas grant, Call Construction, Diebolt Lumber and artists Tracy Kiegle and Jim Smith.
All told, grants from the University of Kansas added up to more than $8,000, garden founder Carolyn McLean said.
Almost $1,300 came from KU’s Center for Research. The funds were a continuance of an Inclusive Gardening Project award ECCG had been given to enhance outreach to those with physical handicaps or living below poverty level. In addition to the funds, McLean said “KU also gave us handicap-adaptable tools. They filled our car front and back with them.”
Additional funds went to widen the main drive through the garden, from 12 to 16 feet, noted Garden Coordinator John Richards. Dog House Concrete, LaHarpe, is doing that work, along with installing a 20-foot long concrete box culvert at the north entrance to the road.
Once road construction is finished, two large wagon wheels will be placed on each side of the drive at both the north and south entrances to notify drivers of the drop offs there. The wheels are being refurbished by Twin Motors Ford.
“They normally don’t” do that sort of work, McLean said, “but they did it as a donation for us.”
Dog House also installed a crushed gravel pad for a new storage shed, which is being provided by Diebolt Lumber, LaHarpe. The shed, designed to look like a farm house, will be surrounded by a white picket fence with an arbor entrance. “It will be the exact same fence and arbor as at the Wayne Garrett Memorial Children’s Garden,” McLean noted. The fence and arbor at the new SAFE BASE-coordinated children’s garden, at the corner of Sycamore and Lincoln streets, were also installed by Diebolt Lumber.
While the shed — which will also sport a four-foot porch where gardeners can rest in the shade — is being loaned to ECCG by Diebolt, the fence and arbor are being paid for with KU funds.
The look is part of a bucolic farm theme selected for the garden. To enhance that look, small concrete animals are being painted in realistic fashion and will be scattered amidst the benches and picnic shelters — also new additions to the garden.
In keeping with the farm theme, existing garden sheds were painted by Jim Smith to mimic barns.
The unified look will help Richards in efforts to educate children about growing food, McLean said. In addition, a cistern pump, a kitchen pump, a regular hand pump, push-type garden cultivator and vintage mail box — all old farm staples — were donated by Jay and Wilma Sloan of Garnett.
McLean would still like to locate an old farm wagon as well, she said.
ALONG WITH the beautification, work is being done to the plots themselves, Richards noted.
Leaves composted after last fall’s city leaf pick up are being added to rows A and B at the garden to build humus levels and enhance drainage by raising the beds and giving them a more mounded structure.
Additional leaves are needed, Richards said, and can be brought loose or bagged to the garden. “They’ll see where to dump them,” he said of the obvious piles of leaves and bags on the west side of the driveway.
One caveat: “We can only take leaves,” Richards noted. “We can’t use trash.”
Also to enhance soil quality, three loads of manure have been purchased and delivered from Strickler Dairy; a fourth will be delivered soon.
All the changes have led to increased interest in the gardens, McLean noted. “The number of applications coming in” from people interested in “plots for next year is amazing,” she said.
McLean emphasized that anyone can garden at Elm Creek.
The annual plot fee of $20 provides gardeners with seeds, water, tool use, training and hands-on help, she said. For those unable to pay or living below poverty level, the garden fee is waived, she said. Applications can be picked up by calling McLean at 365-5577, or by stopping by the garden, at the corner of South First and Vine streets, where they are hanging at the back of the small garden shed.
BECAUSE THE garden has always been a labor of love, a small memorial plot is also being established at Elm Creek.
Corian markers will be engraved by WIlliams Monument. So far, four have been spoken for. They will be placed in honor of Michael Diebolt, Connie McRae, Viki Lucas and Jeanie Larson. The latter two women created the first ECCG sign, McLean said, refurbished last year by Kiegle. Contact McLean for more information on the markers.