An old nursery rhyme asks: Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow?

An old nursery rhyme asks: Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow?

Maybe Mary wouldn’t have been quite so contrary if she’d had a little help with her garden.

Jessie Dryden, a volunteer activist who is partnering with the Hannibal Parks & Recreation Department (HP&R) on the city’s community garden project, is by no means contrary, but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t love to see many helping hands turn out for Saturday’s Planting Day at the Common Ground Community Garden. The garden is located at 322 S. Eighth St., across the street from the Street Department headquarters.

“Anyone is welcome. The more the merrier!” said Dryden in an e-mail to the Courier-Post. “They should bring themselves, family, friends and helping hands ready to play outside in the dirt.”

The planting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and continue until noon, “or until everything is planted,” said Dryden.

According to Dryden, there will a wide assortment of items going into the earth Saturday.

“We have quite a diverse array of plants to plant this year - different herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables,” she said. “Out of the herbs, there are different varieties of basil, mint, oregano, dill, fennel, wheat grass, thyme, cilantro, etc. Flowers like roses, petunias, marigolds, zinnias. Fruit such as melons and watermelons, blueberries and blackberries. Vegetables will include the standard Midwestern staples like potatoes and beans, onions, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers.”

According to Mary Lynne Richards of the HP&R, participants will go home with more than dirty hands.

“Volunteers will be able to take some of the fruits of their labor home. Extra tomato plants will be given to volunteers who help plant,” she said, adding that water and snacks will be available to the volunteers.

While Dryden doesn’t know how many volunteers will turn out, but all that do will be appreciated.

“We would be blessed by anyone's participation regardless of it is only a few or a few hundred,” she said. “The whole purpose of the garden is to promote community - foster a common bond through common sense that addresses specific needs of the community such as education, food security, and health all while sharing common ground.

“Anytime any community member lends a helping hand, we are honored and overjoyed to have them participate. We are one community and in the past year, it has truly been an incredible experience to see the diverse and colorful people of Hannibal work together on this project. The garden thrives as a result of their overwhelming dedication and compassion.”

Saturday’s volunteers will be invited back to help with the garden over the course of the growing season.

“We hope and strongly encourage volunteers to register to help nurture the garden throughout the growing season so they can, quite literally, eat the fruits of their labor. That's the best part of growing your own food, right?” asked Dryden. “We have volunteer opportunities beginning as early as the week of May 18. And we will have a volunteer orientation and potluck at 6 p.m. May 29 for anyone interested in turning those brown thumbs green and practicing their skills at the community garden.”

A variety of opportunities will be presented during the months ahead to learn more about gardening.

“We have an exciting summer planned and many opportunities to get involved,” said Dryden. “We will be starting our mini-workshop training sessions on Saturday, May 31, at 9 a.m. which will be on watering. June 14 and June 28 are the other workshop days scheduled in May/June and they will cover weeding and mulching, pruning and herb harvesting respectively. These workshops will be about an hour to an hour and a half long and are free to the community. We will, however, be collecting a ‘good-will’ offering for those who are willing and able to give so we can continue these types of classes.

“We are looking to schedule an organic pesticide workshop early in July and will also be doing composting, seed harvesting and propagation, food preservation, and a class on the healing garden which is all about herbs and their medicinal purposes. We are always looking for teachers and more teaching opportunities for the community, so we welcome anyone interested in having a class at the garden. It will be a fun summer of learning how to grow your own food while soaking up some Vitamin D and working on that ever-attractive farmer's tan.”