Where: 6517-19 Smiley Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63139 (behind Mount Tabor United Church of Christ)
The mission of the Lindenwood Park Neighborhood Association (LPNA) strategic plan is to “strengthen the quality of life in Lindenwood Park neighborhood.” One of the goals of this strategic plan is to “build a sense of affiliation and commitment among residents, businesses, and other stakeholders to the Lindenwood Park neighborhood.” A Community Garden is one of the strategies that will be used to help achieve this goal: “LPNA will work with neighborhood residents to establish a community garden.” In order to measure neighborhood interest, we published a solicitation article in our March 2011 newsletter Lindenwood Neighborhood and we also asked block captains to forward contact information regarding interested neighbors. We had enough interest, about seven people, to continue the search for a site and to begin establishing a community garden group.
Our community garden will help improve our Lindenwood Park neighborhood quality of life by providing a source of community pride. It will help encourage social interaction, self-reliance, and beautify our neighborhood. It will help our gardeners produce nutritious food, reduce the family food budget, conserve resources and create opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education. Participants will receive vegetables and herbs harvested from a successful garden; they will learn new gardening skills; they will meet new residents and make new friends; they will be rewarded with the visual success of the garden; they will contribute to the success of a neighborhood project which provides a source of community pride; and they will help build a stronger neighborhood.
In November 2011, LPNA signed a lease agreement with Mount Tabor United Church of Christ (6520 Arsenal 63139) to use land behind their church as a community garden. They also offered us space in their storage shed for our gardening equipment. We submitted a grant application to Gateway Greening, Inc. (www.gatewaygreening.org) for resources to help our gardening group get started. Gateway Greening’s Community Garden program’s mission is to contribute to neighborhood vitality and stability through community food projects, wellness programs, and civic greening. They accomplish this by forming alliances with neighborhood groups to provide resources for citizen-managed open spaces that encourage healthier, safer and more enriched lives. The purpose of the grant program is to support neighborhood groups committed to creating successful food-producing gardens or urban greening projects over the long term and provide the resources and knowledge that enable them to develop food producing gardens and landscaped areas.
Gateway Greening has assisted with project planning, coordination and the installation of raised-bed plots, a compost system, plant material, soil amendments, and mulch. They have also provided watering hoses. In addition they will provide technical assistance such as garden visits, educational workshops, and mailers throughout our growing season. In exchange for their assistance our community garden group committed to:
- develop a realistic long term plan by outlining garden features to be installed over several years;
- create a project with impact on the neighborhood and visibility to passers-by;
- provide volunteer support and labor needed to maintain the project, including planting, watering, and weeding, throughout the season and upcoming years;
- commit 30 hours a year as a group volunteering with other Gateway Greening projects;
- ensure that the project is self-sufficient by the end of the season; and
- provide evaluation worksheet, progress photos and updated gardener lists to Gateway Greening.
With the help of Gateway Greening staff, two master gardener volunteers, our LPNA volunteers, and LPNA community gardeners we installed 11 raised-bed plots (4’ x 10’) and a compost system on Saturday, March 24, 2012. It was a perfect weather day. Each raised-bed plot was assigned to our gardeners by our master gardener who pulled names from a coffee can. Each gardener will choose and tend her/his own plants of choice for the 2012 growing season April through October. Gardeners can purchase seeds and seedlings at a discount at Gateway Greening. Two of our plots have been designated to grow food which will be donated to needy residents in our neighborhood. Now that the raised-bed plots have been installed, we hope to create a welcoming area for all our neighbors to come sit and enjoy a productive garden and the natural beauty of the garden. Our Community Garden is located at 6517-19 Smiley Avenue, 63139; near the intersection of Smiley and Leola; behind the Mount Tabor United Church of Christ; and one block from Epiphany of our Lord Church and Gateway Science Academy; and about 1-1/2 blocks from our Machacek Library.
Our LPNA Community Garden leaders are Sharon Panian and Milton Murry for the 2012 growing season. They have designed a LPNA Community Garden Guidelines document which each gardener has signed as their commitment to the gardening community through the 2012 growing season. Members pay a small annual fee to participate and commit to work with our community of gardeners to maintain our garden. Milton Murry has donated a mower, weed eater, and a few gardening tools. He also plans to repair a wheelbarrow and a leaf blower to be donated for our community use. Other members will donate hand tools to be shared. Gateway Greening has an excellent tool-lending program perfect for large workdays. Tools will be available for loan with a two-week reservation. We are very grateful to be able to store our gardening tools in the Mount Tabor tool shed. Yard waste, trash and recycle bins are very close at hand near the alley adjacent to our garden site. This easy access makes it so much easier to keep our garden clear of overgrown grass, weeds and rubbish. Our 23rd Ward Alderman, Joe Vaccaro, has written a letter of support to the Water Department so we can use water from the fire hydrant to water our raised-bed plots. The Water Department will provide us a key, reducer, and backflow preventer for water access for the season.
Any resident of our Lindenwood Park or Tilles Park neighborhoods who is interested in participating in the community garden should contact Milton or Sharon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please enter “LPNA Community Garden” in the subject field so the email won’t be deleted. If garden plots become available throughout the 2012 growing season, we would be glad to contact the next person on the list of interested residents to begin growing their plants in our garden. Also, we will submit a grant application to add more raised-bed plots if we have additional residents who would like to become part of our community next year. Please let us know if you are interested.
We will provide you with a series of pictures to display the land as we received it, when we marked out plots, the garden installation, and recent clean up. And we will post more pictures as our gardens are planted and throughout the growing season so visitors to our LPNA website may see our gardens grow.