- Featured Stories
- Douglas County
- City of Ava
- General Interest
By Mindy Crandall
When my children were little, there was nothing more gratifying than sitting down with them each evening to read a book. Each night we would snuggle up together on the couch or someone’s bed and almost in rhythm they would all four softly yell out at their favorite book title for me to read. This may seem a bit overwhelming to some, but to me, it was my chance to ask God’s blessings on them and enjoy something so simple, time with my children.
Even though each of them had their own reading choice, there was one book in particular that they all enjoyed – Inch By Inch, The Garden Song by David Mallett.
The book offers a snappy little tune – Inch by inch, row by row, Gonna make this garden grow. All it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground.
I have read this book numerous times and am positive that I could recite it word for word.
I found myself singing the words to this song this week as I spent time with Myrna Stark and Caryl Stillings-Posada to discuss the Community Garden.
The Healthy Harvest Community Garden came into existence in 2009. Myrna, who works for the University of Missouri Extension and spends countless hours at the Food Harvest realized Ava had a need. Too often she overheard families discussing how they would love to eat healthier, but the ever-rising cost of produce was a factor.
Unfortunately, with the economy today, and with unforeseen weather, the cost keeps climbing. There is no way for us to stop the rising prices, however, we can become more self-sufficient.
Douglas County is mostly rural area and many have plenty of land for a garden site, but for others in town, acreage is a problem. The Community Garden is the answer for residents in town who need the space to grow their own.
After several meetings and a desire to see this garden through, Myrna began researching other Community Gardens and rounding up others who were interested in watching it take shape. This project came together with the help of many.
After several No’s and a lot of searching, the perfect garden spot was selected. The Community Garden is located at 941 SW 4th Ave. on the Ava United Methodist Church property. This fertile piece of land has the perfect view! It had every criteria that the group was looking for – some shade, sun and a nice playground for the children to enjoy. You do not have to be a member of this church to enjoy the Community Garden. It is for everyone who is willing to do a little hard days work.
The Healthy Harvest Community Garden was developed to help assist those who needed space for gardening and to absorb some of the cost. Water, rakes and hoes are all available to those who need them on site. If tilling up the ground is a problem, someone will help. The garden is about more than just healthy products, but the community working together and enjoying the simple things in life, friendship.
In the beginning, surveys were passed out. Then the soil was tested and DigRite was called to mark the appropriate underground lines. Momentum kept going as each 10×20 plot was then marked off.
In the effort to build up the idea and get more people involved, in September of 2009, a 5K Walk/Run was held to help with the beginning cost of starting this project. The run began at the Heart of The Hills Food Harvest and wound its way around to the Community Garden. The run was a big success!
Over the past several years, massive amounts of food have been donated to the Food Harvest.
School children and organizations have all enjoyed time at the garden site. The land has been used as a teaching tool for so many.
Andy Read, horticultural specialist with the University of Missouri extension also held a Hoop House class in the garden area. Seventeen people were in attendance and the 10×20 foot structure was erected in less than three hours. What a great way to learn more about Hoop Houses and their ability to protect tender plants under adverse conditions!
The youth at the Ava United Methodist Church also raised pumpkins the first year and gave them out at their fall festival. I enjoyed this time with my children just as much as reading those books.
Today, a rainwater run off reserve tank has been placed for use under the churches eaves.
There are many instances where having a garden site can be beneficial, so many possibilities.
I ask you to make a difference. Sign up for a plot and donate your food to the Food Harvest or just choose to consume better quality food. Money can be saved. This is a great way for an organization to help raise money or just another way to enjoy great fellowship among family and friends.
As I make my usual Sunday trip to church, I will look past the Ava United Methodist Church building and see a spot were tranquility exists. And I am sure, I will come singing The Garden Song and leave singing a hymn.
For further information on the Community Garden, contact Myrna Stark with the University of Missouri Extension office at 417-683-4409 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.