St. Paul’s Community Garden off to a Great Start

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August 8, 2017:  This past winter, a large group started meeting to plan a community garden for St. Paul’s.  The goal was to create a community garden and donate 100% of the produce to the Rochester Area Neighborhood House and help our neighbors gain access to fresh healthy vegetables.   St. Paul’s has been very generous with food pantry donations to the Neighborhood house for several years.   The Community Garden adds a nice piece to that mission by adding fresh produce to our giving.

The garden was planned out on a white board and with the help of some experienced gardeners Flo Ailing and Judy Hakim, a plan was put together!  It was a lot of fun visualizing where the various vegetables would be in our garden and it gave all of us some hope and visions of warmer weather to come.  Some of the group even started some seeds indoors under lights to get a head start.  A location for the garden was found in the Rochester Community Garden located off of Woodward Avenue in Rochester.  It is a really nice setup with a fenced in area housing over 140 garden plots.

In May, our group met to do cleanup and begin planting the garden.  Our first plantings included Lettuce, Radishes, Carrots, Peppers, Summer Zucchini Squash, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Swiss chard, Onions, and Kale.  We based the garden off of a popular method called “Square Foot Gardening”. 

This method maximizes output in a small space by dividing the plot up into one foot squares.   Each square gets different amounts of seeds e.g. for carrots we could plant 16 seeds in one square.  For peppers, one plant goes in a square.  And for our squash, it needed 9 squares (it is huge!).

Our group takes turns going to the garden for weeding and watering by signing up via Sign-up genius online (many hands have made light work!).  June brought us Radishes, Red Leaf Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Kale, and Swiss chard.  In July our wonderful Zucchini plant started producing beautiful squash quickly!  The squash literally can grow an inch or more a day. It is amazing to see!  We also started getting peppers, green beans, and some tomatoes in July.  As of this writing, we are about to get a bountiful harvest of Tomatoes.   We have also re-planted several areas for a fall harvest including more lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and green beans.

St. Paul’s Community Garden is always open to new helpers this season and we encourage anyone who is interested to jump in any time.  No gardening experience is needed to join.  We will help you get started. Many of us did not have much experience but this really is the best way to learn, just jump in and literally get your hands dirty!

Our prayers are being answered with a very good harvest so far.  As of this writing, we have delivered 114 pounds of fresh produce and we have much more to come.  We hope to expand the garden in 2018 and we also have some outreach ideas to potentially mentor a family or two in the area to come into the garden with us and help maintain the garden. The idea would be to have access to produce for their family and learn to garden along with us.

If you are interested in joining the Community Gardening team, we would love to have you join this mission!  You will find it very rewarding, educational, fun, and a great way to help our neighbors.    Please contact Rob Patten for more information.