Spring has sprung at Elm Creek Community Garden

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February 22, 2017 - 12:00 AM

The recent spell of warm weather has given Val McLean spring fever.
He’s hoping the fever spreads to gardeners far and wide.
McLean, who owns the property that serves as home for the Elm Creek Community Garden in the 700 block of South First Street, is accepting plot orders for the 2017 season. The garden has 127 plots available, including several raised garden beds accessible to handicapped users.
Each plot rents for $25, although gardeners who qualify through Kansas poverty guidelines will get theirs for free. The rental fee includes access to tools, machinery and water.
“It’s very possible for each plot to produce 400 to 500 pounds of vegetables,” McLean said.
The garden opens for the season March 17.
John Richards, a master gardener who has worked extensively with the McLeans to make ECCG one of the premier community gardens in the state, will offer a free workshop at 1 p.m. March 18.
There, he’ll show how to properly and safely use all of the machinery, and give other tips to be a successful gardener.
Other master gardeners will offer educational topics through the year.

ECCG also is working in league with Humanity House, a local organization geared to helping families that struggle financially.
Humanity House founder Tracy Keagle is given access to two full rows of plots — 22 plots in all — in order to give away free vegetables each week this summer.
Last year, Humanity House gave away more than 7,000 pounds of produce — 3½ tons.
On the west side of the garden’s property is a wildflower garden.
“The wildflower display was quite brilliant last year,” McLean said.

AS A certified non-profit organization, ECCG operates from donations and volunteer labor.
As a means to help the community garden, the city has established a fund at City Hall for donors to contribute to help defray the cost of water.
One donor, Iolan Earl Croley, donated $1,000 last year.
“The response was tremendous,” McLean said, but quickly added support for the garden is an ongoing need.
To donate, call the city utility office at 365-4910.
Those seeking to reserve a garden plot — several are still available — call McLean at 365-5577. A drop box also is accessible on a tool shed at the garden.
This is the garden’s 11th year of operation.

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