The Community Garden located on 14 Street in Portsmouth is one of two gardens that are ongoing collaborative efforts that are a tremendous benefit to many in the local area.
Lisa Keppler of The Ohio State University Extension Office in Portsmouth, said the Extension Office works with others to make the 14th Community Garden and The Salvation Army Community Garden successful projects.
“The kids garden, and the adult gardens are in partnership with the Scioto County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) The Counseling Center’s Summer Outreach Program, The Salvation Army, and members of our office, the Extension Office,” Keppler said. “I am a Snap Education Program assistant, and we teach nutrition classes, as well as the teaching of gardening. We teach the community how to eat healthier, by growing their own food they do eat healthier. We teach them how to prepare things, and we do taste-testing with the children especially.”
Kate Sowards Soil of the SWCD, said Thursday evening’s work in the 14th garden involves weeding corn.
“Tonight we are finishing weeding the corn. The kids started it on Wednesday. We planted the corn seed with the children a couple of weeks ago and when the rain came last week the corn finally came up, and then at the same time, so did all of the grass,” Sowards said. “This is just garden maintenance. On open evenings we do whatever needs to be done, we have members like Stacy and Jim that come down to help with the work.
So we have residents of the community like Jim and Stacy that come out and help in the gardens,” Sowards said. “Stacy also comes down and also helps with the gardening program with the kids from Outreach. Kids from the Summer Outreach Club come to the community garden three days a week, and they are here for an hour every day, and do the bulk of the planting and maintenance through a period of summer that the Outreach Club is in session. Mr. Clarence Parker, who oversees the Outreach Program has been so supportive, and let’s the children come down here.”
Stacy Fausnaugh, a resident of Portsmouth, said she has been helping since the inception of the 14th Street Community Garden.
“I love helping with the Community Garden,” Fausnaugh said. “This is my first year doing this. We have a wonderful group of kids this year that we are working with. They work really hard, and they don’t complain. It really makes me excited to be able to share this project with them.”
Jim Fagan, also a resident of Portsmouth, said he enjoys helping with the 14 Street Community Garden.
“When I moved here to Portsmouth from Columbus, Lisa got me involved with it after I took one of the nutrition classes,” Fagen said. “I really enjoy being a part of this. I think it is a really good thing for the community.”
Sowards said she believes wealth of knowledge and expertise that children from the Outreach Program acquire by working in the garden will help them in the future.
“We have students that have gardened with us now for two, and three years. I have absolute confidence that any time in their future, if they want to put a garden together, they will grow food for their own families,” Sowards said. “They have learned that much, and have gained the experience, and they are now leaders when they come into the Community Garden. They will take one group of kids a do task, while we take another group to the other side to do something else.”
They are able to fulfill the purpose of the Community Garden, which is to share the contents of it with the community.
“After Outreach is over we rely on this evening time to finish with the garden, a lot of harvesting is done,” Sowards said. “We have a lot of elderly residents in the neighborhood that will come by while we are gardening, and we will pass out food. We have also given donations to the Haley House before, and when we have enough when send food to Pleasant Green Baptist Church’s food pantry. So, we just share with the community what is grown here. The most gratifying part of this program is to be able to pass over a bag of tomatoes, or peppers, especially to the elderly residents who are not able to garden anymore.”
For more information regarding the Community Garden projects, contact Kate Sowards of the SWCD at 740-259-9231.
Lisa Keppler of The Ohio State University Extension Office in Portsmouth, standing near vegetables in the 14 Street Community Garden.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.