Garden produces meaningful harvest for community
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.