The success of Hannibal’s Common Ground Community Garden will be celebrated during Re-Creation Day on Saturday, Aug. 3.
“It’s a celebration of the summer harvest,” said Jessie Dryden, a social engineer with Common Sense for an Uncommon Bond who is partnering with the Parks Department on the garden project. “Even if it rains, we’ll feel like it’s a celebration anyway.”
Dryden wants people to come and be a part of the event, even if they have never been to the garden site at 322 S. Eighth St.
“It’s about getting people in the community to come down here and start using this space as a park, too, because it isn’t just a garden. You don’t have to volunteer just to come and enjoy the scenery. We’re trying to get people involved with music and healthy food,” she said.
The garden’s inaugural growing season has been a success.
“I’m really happy with the way it turned out,” said Dryden. “Everything seemed to flourish. We’ve had quite a large yield in spite of the weird weather and other environmental elements, insects coming at us and things like that.”
While the garden has been a success, Dryden is at a loss to explain some things she has seen over the spring/summer growing season.
“We have a melon bed that’s flourishing, and we have a bunch of honeydew on it, but we have another melon bed that isn’t growing,” she said. “It’s the same thing with eggplant. We have four eggplant plants that are just producing a lot and a couple that have nothing on it. It’s just weird.”
Dryden admits the season has been a learning experience.
“It’s an interesting chemistry with the raised beds because you really do have to get the soil-to-fertilizer ratio right,” she said. “We also had a few squash bugs and one of the things I read was to plant in a tire or use a rubber mulch. We put it (rubber mulch) around all the plants that could be attacked by squash bugs and I haven’t seen any since. It’s little tricks like that. I’m learning, too.”
Some ideas are already in the works to make the garden program even more successful in the future.
“We were requiring a minimum of four hours a month to get the produce from here. I think that (next season) if people just want to come and work a day we will at least be able to give produce out,” said Dryden, who plans to offer some of the garden’s excess produce to the Nutrition Center. “It’s about getting people to volunteer at least one day, or just a little bit of time. Anybody who wants food, all you have to do is come and work, or water a little bit, or prune a few things.”
Page 2 of 2 - With the planting of winter-harvest crops set to begin soon, Dryden is hopeful the garden will serve as an inspiration to residents.
“If we can just encourage one person to go and plant their own garden, to even help facilitate that in any way, that to me is a success,” she said. “If it’s just a way to encourage people and get them involved and thinking about growing their own food, we’ve accomplished a lot.”
Saturday’s celebration at the garden will begin at 6 p.m. and continue until sunset.