Community garden to become a reality in Mt. Vernon with local support

Steve Chapman

Community betterment, MU Southwest Research Center help get the ball rolling on volunteer planting project
A community garden which could provide food for area food pantries in Mt. Vernon is a step closer to becoming a reality after a meeting of volunteers took place at the Mt. Vernon Area Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 30. Six people, including members of the Southwest Research Center, the Community Betterment Council and the Chamber, as well as volunteers interested in helping out, were in attendance.
Pam Dudley, chamber director, said the group discussed several ideas about how the garden should be managed during the meeting.
“We’re still working on the format,” she said. “We believe that if you put work in, then you’re going to be able to get something out on the other end of it. Now, a person may just donate their time to help with the planting and weeding and picking of the produce, then they may donate that to a family in need or someone that needs double and they’ve only put in work to get a single harvest.”
Dudley said the city is providing land for the garden, as well as access to water for the vegetables planted in the garden.
“Of course, that’s the key ingredient to making this all work,” Dudley said.
The garden’s location is being withheld at this time, but Dudley said it is going to be on a plot of land under the size of an acre.
“It had a home on it, so it’s big enough so that it was a city lot,” she said.
Different organizations are working to help make the garden happen. For example, Dudley said the Community Betterment Council is providing financial backing, and some area businesses are donating materials needed for the garden. “We’ve already heard from Meek’s, and they’re willing to donate some of the supplies we need to build raised beds, so that will be a cost savings,” she said. “And, then we’re going to start seeking out other types of donations, and then Community Betterment itself can make an investment in this community garden.”
Others are helping out with deciding what should be planted in the garden.
“We are working with the Southwest Research Center on what types of plantings are good for this area,” Dudley said, “and then we have a couple of master gardeners volunteering that also have good data on that, so that we plant the right things.”
Volunteers who help with the garden may be able to expect a share of the produce raised, but Dudley said the main idea behind the garden is to provide food which will be distributed from local pantries.
“We expect that anyone who donates time will get something out of it,” she said, “but then we do expect there will be excess, as long as weather permits and there’s no major failure the first year out, that we could maybe donate to St. Susanne’s or other food pantries in the community.”
Krystal Wright Rice was one of the volunteers at the meeting. Dudley credits her with getting discussion about the garden started. Rice responded that several Mt. Vernon residents had indicated they wanted a garden, though she first spoke with Dudley about it.
“It was a community suggestion from quite a few residents of Mt. Vernon on a poll through the chamber,” she said. “But I had the idea to call Pam and see what it would take.”
Rice, who has been president of a community garden before, said she has a vision for a community garden in Mt. Vernon.
“In my vision, I see people of all ages working together to sustain a growing garden that will be available to the people who work and put time in,” she said. “I see our leftovers of produce that isn’t used in time, going to the local pantries and people who need help who can’t otherwise get out to the garden for whatever reasons they may be.”
Additionally, Rice provided a mission statement for the garden.
“The mission of the Mt. Vernon Community Garden is to provide space for individuals, families, and friends to learn, create, and experience the rewards of gardening,” she said.
The next meeting for the community garden will be held at the chamber office on Monday, Feb. 18, at 7 a.m. More ideas will be discussed, and the future location of the garden will be revealed. For more information on the meeting or the garden, contact Pam Dudley at (417) 466-7654.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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