Dig! Dowagiac celebrates successful first seasonPublished 5:28pm Tuesday, October 16, 2012
After a particularly hot and dry summer, Dowagiac’s community garden celebrated the end of its first season by donating much of the produce to local organizations to be used by residents.
Dig! Dowagiac began as an idea last winter and when planting season rolled around, four Dowagiac women — Jody Crandall, Lisa Thorne, Teri Frantz and Vicki Gross — worked almost everyday to keep the garden watered and growing. After getting permission from Dowagiac Union Schools to use a portion of land near the armory, the women began planting seeds in the hopes of welcoming community members and providing low-cost food to community organizations that served a need in Dowagiac.
With more than 100 hours of labor put into the garden’s first season, Crandall estimated that they harvested approximately 100 pounds of produce. Of that collection, much of it was donated to Hope’s Door and the senior citizens luncheon, scheduled for Nov. 8 at Dowagiac Union High School.
“It really was a labor of love,” Crandall said Tuesday. “With an emphasis on the labor.”
Crandall said the City of Dowagiac paid for the water that was used to keep the plants hydrated through the tough summer, while Niles resident Mark Van Til helped guide the women in keeping the garden going.
“We learned a lot in this first year,” Crandall said. “You form a camaraderie … it’s a neat way to meet new people.”
With obvious challenges of weeding, watering and battling the dry heat, Crandall said another challenge included just having enough hands to help. The reward of seeing a fresh, homegrown vegetable at the end, however, made it all worth it.
“It was having that something to pick at the end,” Crandall said. “And we loved having something to donate.”
For the next season, which will enter into planning stages in January, Crandall said the women hope that more interest come out to join them.
“We have community nights each Wednesday and that’s a good way to get started,” Crandall said.
The Wednesday evening gatherings are open to anyone from professional gardeners to beginners. Crandall also said residents can reserve individual plots of either 10-by-10 feet or 10-by-20 feet to grow their own produce apart from the communal space.
“We’ll set a plow date for the next season, so we’ll want to know if someone would like their own space,” Crandall said.
“We definitely want more people to get involved,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll come and play in the dirt with us.”
Community members can also get involved by donating supplies, such as seeds, shovels, gloves and other gardening materials.
For more information, visit www.digdowagiac.org or www.facebook.com/dowagiaccommunitygarden.