The initial step in creating a community garden in Hannibal will take place Saturday, May 4, when the construction of raised gardens takes place.

The initial step in creating a community garden in Hannibal will take place Saturday, May 4, when the construction of raised gardens takes place. The work will start at 9 a.m. at the first garden location - 322 S. Eighth St.
While the site is technically in the Bear Creek flood plain, that patch of flood buyout property was chosen in part because it rarely is reached by rising water.
“It has to be a really big flood for that place to get flooded, so it’s a great place for it,” said Mary Lynne Richards, assistant supervisor for promotion and planning with the Hannibal Parks & Recreation Department. “We really don’t have to worry about flooding very much there.”
Jessie Dryden, a social engineer with Common Sense for an Uncommon Bond who is partnering with the Parks Department on the garden project, hopes the Eighth Street garden is the first of many.
“I’m really hoping this garden is an example to create other gardens,” she said. “It’s upon the initiative of the people in the community to take that upon themselves. That’s why we’re using this garden as a pilot project as an outdoor educational space.”
“There’s a lot of logistics involved in doing that so we don’t want to make it too big at first because we don’t want it to be eyesore,” added Richards.
Dryden wants the garden to feed not only stomachs, but minds.
“We are using the garden as an outdoor classroom to teach people how to grow their own food organically and cost efficiently,” she said.

Seed money
While the Hannibal Clinic and a grant from General Mills are providing “seed” money for the garden, a good many items utilized will be secondhand.
“She (Dryden) is really wanting to show that a lot of this can be done with recycled materials. I think that’s great,” said Richards.
“Recycled materials are a better way to reclaim and use materials that have been tossed aside,” said Dryden, noting that leftover pavers from the recent marina project will be utilized along with tree trunks and branches, plus an old swing set.
Dryden is also seeking donations of used lumber, dressers, wine bottles, rock/concrete, blocks, bricks, fencing, head boards, bath tubs and book shelves.
The construction day event is open to anyone.
“It’s for anybody who is willing to learn about how to create raised beds out of materials you can find in your backyard. We want to give them some ideas on things they can do for their own gardens,” said Dryden.
After the raised beds are built, a planting day will take place Saturday, May 18. The planting will start at 9 a.m.
“A salsa garden is kind of what we’re going to be putting in, but it just depends on what is donated and what we collectively deem will go best in raised beds and in this certain environment,” said Dryden. “It is about getting things that people normally buy from the store and teaching them how to grow it themselves.
“We’re reaching a critical time in our history where food costs are skyrocketing. The average American is paying about $3,600 annually for vegetables. If you learn how to grow your own food you can offset that cost and it’s knowledge no one can ever take away from you.”

Volunteers sought

Once the seeds are planted, different organizations and volunteers will be asked to help tend to the garden during the growing season.
“We’re inviting them to be a part of this practical-skill building opportunity where you can eat and learn at the same time,” said Dryden. “The traditional way of doing community gardens is to buy a plot. I know there are some people who prefer that kind of gardening strategy, but for this first garden we wanted it to be a collective gardening strategy so it doesn’t really limit the amount of people who participate. It also kind of gives a framework for what it means to be connected to nature and to connect socially again. That’s why the name of the garden is ‘Common Ground’ for providing a space for common ground, for people to foster and nurture in a community.”
This is the Parks Department’s first venture into providing garden space.
“When this flood buyout plan became available it just seemed tailor-made for that. We’d always planned on doing a community garden and had looked around at some plots. When Jessie offered her services we were thrilled,” said Richards.
While the Parks Department and Common Sense for an Uncommon Bond are partnering to make the initial garden a reality, Dryden welcomes public input.
“Anyone interested in participating in the garden, I welcome their feedback and ideas as much as possible,” she said. “I do want it to be a collective effort and give people a space to be proud of; to know that they contributed to something where they can see the fruits of their labor.”
Dryden can be reached at (720) 560-1122 or at .