Garden produces meaningful harvest for community

Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Harvest Community Garden, located on the grounds of Central Community United Methodist Church, is helping to produce a harvest of fresh foods and more for the community. Contributed photo

Shell Knob Church to host Plant, Garage Sale

Harvest Community Garden, which was established last year, has begun its growing season.

Established in 2017 to help Shell Knob residents put fresh foods on their table and contribute to a healthy community, the one-acre garden plot has produced a meaningful harvest for the lakeside community in more ways than one.

Harvest Community Garden offers 4-by-12 plots for Shell Knob residents who may not have room for a garden to grow their own fresh produce for only $20. If they join the watering team, the fee is waived. The one-acre garden is located adjacent to Central Community United Methodist Church off Y Highway and was established last May. Julia Kilmer/reporter@cassville-democrat.com

A portion of the garden’s produce was given to Central Community United Methodist’s food pantry, where the church is located, and according to Betty Ragland, one of Harvest Community Garden’s founders, the produce also helped supply fresh tomatoes and cucumbers for the Central Crossing Senior Center’s salad bar and produce for another local program, as well as brought the community together.

“We distributed over a 1,000 pounds between the food pantry, senior center and His House Foundation,” Ragland said. “Pastor Bill [Kenagy] is trying to get me to double that. We had a table inside the church door so that when people came to the food pantry to pick up food, they were welcome to pick up any veggies they wanted, and other people could, too. Then at His House, we furnished a bunch of tomatoes.”

Local school children also got to see a community garden in action, spending a day caring for the tract of land in two local Give Back Days this year.

Straw hay bale gardening, an alternative and efficient, weed-free method of gardening, as shown in photo, is utilized at Harvest Community Garden in Shell Knob. Contributed photo

“We are able to teach the younger ones,” Ragland said. “We’re getting back to eating fresh foods and knowing how to prepare them.”

This year, tomatoes, squash, cucumber, cantaloupe, kale, turnips, and onions will be planted again, and some new items, albeit a little later, thanks to Mother Nature.

“The cold April [weather] held us back,” Ragland said. “We’ve added some items. A field rep from the MFA store came out and brought me some cotton seed. And we have an herb bed growing this year with dill, parsley and oregano.”

Garden volunteers plan to host a plant sale fundraiser June 14 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pictured are some of the plants that may be available, including Spider plants and vegetable plants. Contributed photo

For residents who don’t have space for a garden, the garden’s policy works the same this year — a $20 fee for a 4-by-12 plot.

“We’ve added three more plots so have about 16 total,” Ragland said. “We will waive the fee if you join the watering team so your garden gets watered, but you help water the rest of it.”

A few plots are still available.

This sitting area overlooks Harvest Community Garden in Shell Knob, and provides a nice place to rest in the shade for gardeners. The church is located on the grounds of Central Community United Methodist Church, and helps provide fresh produce for the church’s pantry, which has been in operation for 18 years. Contributed photo

Garden volunteers are working on obtaining a shed to store tools and supplies, and installing a rain water supply system. The cost of the shed is about $3,675, and volunteers only lack a little more.

“We have about $3,500 of it,” Ragland said.

Volunteers are also seeking a holding tank for rain water, tomato cages, herbicide and insecticide supplies.

Anyone in the community is invited to help with the garden’s monetary or practical needs. An upcoming fundraiser is planned in conjunction with the church’s garage sale event on June 14 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the church.

“We’ll have some different plants people don’t have easy access to, like snow on the mountain, indoor spider plants, and veggie plants,” Ragland said. “And we’re going to be selling stepping stones with people’s names or business on them for $30 each that will go around the shed.”

For more information on renting a plot or helping the garden, Ragland can be reached at 417-846-6854. To purchase a stepping stone, the church office can be reached at 417-858-6707.

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