EAST WILLIAMSON - In 2013, more than 20 new raised gardening beds were added to the Ramella Park Community Garden of Eatin’ in East Williamson, and 12 arbors were constructed to be used for growing edible vine plants.
Throughout the summer and fall, local and regional volunteers worked endlessly to complete much of the construction in East End, which in turn has opened up more space for more community members to rent raised beds at the gardens this year.
“We would like to welcome back all our growers from last year and encourage new people who want to garden with us this year to hurry up and sign up,” said Helen Stanley, farmer’s market manager and volunteer at the community gardens.
Each year, plots at the community garden are rented to community members for a small fee. Gardeners have the freedom to grow whatever they choose for the year.
Stanley said that after such great success last year, the raised gardening beds are being rented at a rapid rate.
“Our newly designed beds are reasonably priced, which has attracted new and returning growers alike, and has sparked much enthusiasm,” Stanley said.
This year, the cost of renting a bed will vary based on the size of plot, going at a rate of $5, $15or $20.
Nora Bragg, who has rented space at the gardens for the last two years, said she remembers gardening with her father when she was younger, but stopped for many years due to lack of space.
“I have always loved gardening,” Bragg said. “Now that I have the space to again, I have really been enjoying it.”
“It’s nice because a lot of the time, with the budget I am on, I am able to go over there and pick a tomato instead of having to go to the store,” Bragg said. “I think that it would help others in the community to be able to do the same.”
Paula Reed, who has lived in the area for 35 years, started working at the garden just last year. In addition to renting her plot at the community gardens, she spends eight hours a week at the Farmers Market during the summer.
“I first got involved with the community garden after I had heard about the community garden plots, and because I did not have a garden spot of my own at home. I started renting two plots, and I absolutely loved it,” Reed said.
So far, 15 people have signed up to rent space at the community gardens in 2014. The remaining spots will be rented on a first-come, first-serve.
“We have had some people sign up, but there is still space available,” said Maria Arnot, who works for the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition
“This is a great opportunity for people to get physically active through gardening, and to start eating right,” Arnot said. “Plus, the costs of a plot and seeds is way less than what many people might spend on vegetables throughout the summer at the grocery store.”
Arnot said gardeners will also have the opportunity to participate in free Healthy in the Hills gardening workshops this spring, featuring a wide-range of topics that will include composting, canning, rain barrel making and more.
For more information on renting space at the garden, or to sign up for workshops, contact Maria at 304-235-3400. Up-to-date information can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WilliamsonFarmersMarket
(Kyle Lovern is the sports editor for the Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33 or Twitter @KyleLovern)