Community Garden more popular than ever

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published April 7, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 5, 2013 at 1:41 p.m.
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— It may only be in its fourth year, but the White County Community Garden is so popular, there’s already talk of expansion.

After opening up the application process in January, all 26 raised beds in the garden are full for the season.

The garden, which opened in 2010, is run by nonprofit organization Friends of White River Community Garden, and was set up by a group of Master Gardeners in the Batesville area.

“I wanted to get involved because I see how healthy gardening is for you,” said Susan Shawver, a board member with the garden. “It’s good exercise, and you’re eating vegetables out of your own garden, knowing what chemicals have been put in.”

Spaces in the garden are available — 10-by-10-foot or 4-by-10-foot beds — for $20 to $35 per year. A discount is offered to those 65 and older.

Since the beds for this year are entirely full, Shawver said, some talk has been made of utilizing a small amount of unused space on the back side of the garden in the future.

“We might do something down the line with that, but no definite plan’s in the works for that,” Shawver said.

Sharon Clark, president of the board, has had a bed in the garden in the past. This year, she’s considering giving that up to let a new person enjoy the garden.

“We’ve had several people call since we got all the beds assigned, and we’d like to fulfill everybody’s wishes,” Clark said. “We had a bed ourselves up to this year, and I may have to give my bed to someone else this year.”

The garden, at 1820 Myers St. in Batesville, sits on city property. Clark said that so far, the mayor and other city staff members have been happy with the community’s response to the garden.

“At first, people didn’t quite understand what we were doing, but they’ve finally decided that it’s beautiful,” Clark said. “It’s a unique thing, watching things grow and to plant a seed and watch it turn into something to eat.”

Clark said that the idea for the garden came from a trip to Bend, Ore., to visit her daughter.

“We had seen one out there and thought, ‘Well, there’s no reason we can’t have one in Batesville,’” Clark said.

Shawver said the gardeners who rent beds range from couples in their 30s to senior citizens to families.

“The gardeners are usually either apartment dwellers who have no yard, or people that have no sun in their yards,” Shawver said. “We get some senior citizens, too, who prefer to use the raised beds and don’t have to get out and dig.”

The majority of gardeners plant vegetables, Shawver said, including tomatoes, onions, peppers, squash and cucumbers. A faucet by each bed provides water, which is paid for by the board. Gardeners are encouraged to stay as organic as possible, Shawver said.

“I think everybody is proud to know we have a community garden available in our area,” Shawver said. “In the summer, when the gardens are in full swing, it looks very nice.”

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or evanzandt@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or emily@syncweekly.com.

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