GREEN SEASON – Community garden opens today



March 17, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Long before the warm weather began to creep across the area, the folks at Elm Creek Community Garden have been hard at work to make this the best gardening season yet.
Lori Stottlemire, garden coordinator, has been working throughout the winter to add garden beds, raise them, make repairs and add numerous decorations to brighten the spirit of the gardening space.
“She is such a hard worker,” Carolyn McLean said of Stottlemire. McLean and her husband, Val, were the originators of the community garden, including donating the land on South First Street.
Stottlemire began working at the garden early last summer, and is back and ready to go for another season.
“It’s interesting to watch the garden grow and change as the seasons advance,” Stottlemire said.
Gardeners will notice new signs and decorations throughout the area, and they are working to order new types of seeds as well. The garden beds have been raised to prevent flooding. Stottlemire said plots are still available for $25 — not a bad deal, considering the benefits of gardening, she said. Some of them are:
— Stress relief and mental wellness
— Nutritional foods
— Meeting new people with common interests
— A way to supplement grocery costs
— Contributions to the community
Gardeners can donate their food to the Iola Senior Center, the community food pantry and the Townhouse Apartments.
McLean said the award-winning garden has become a standard in the area, and it draws many people to Iola. For those who wish to start a community garden, she said they are required by the K-State Extension Office to tour the Elm Creek Community Garden as an example.
Supporters of the community garden are: JD’s Tire, Nelson Quarries, Iola Senior Citizens, TLC Garden Center, A&W, the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Thrive Allen County, Diebolt Lumber, New Klein Lumber, State Farm Insurance (both Terry Sparks and John McRae).
Stottlemire said the garden is always looking for interesting outdoor decor. For more information on the garden, to receive applications or donate, contact Stottlemire at 785-727-0194 or McLean at 365-5577.

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