SHELBINA – Tammy Hill and Charlotte Garza are seeing the fruits of their labor.
The women are among six participants in the North East Community Action Corporation (NECAC) Community Garden Project in Shelby County.
The program was started this year by NECAC Shelby County Service Coordinator Lisa Blickhan. The garden is at 201 E. Birch Street in Shelbina. No pesticides are allowed, which means participants have to take care of the plot.
"I like it," said Garza, who lives in Shelbina. "I enjoy getting out and doing something for the community."
With all of the rain this year, weeds have been a problem.
"I bought a tiller," said Hill, a resident of Shelbyville. "The only tools we have are hoes. The weeds grow faster than we can hoe."
Recent dry weather has forced participants to haul water. Hill and Garza bring it in five gallon buckets directly from Shelbina Lake.
"Those buckets get heavy after a while," Hill admits.
As the summer has progressed, the ladies are seeing the results of their hard work. Participants planted tomatoes, squash, carrots, beets, corn, peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe and eggplant. Seeds and potting soil were provided by Country Acres of Shelbina, the Shelbina Greenhouse, Orscheln Farm and Home and local Mennonites. South Shelby schools helped get the seedlings going so they could be transplanted to the garden.
Blickhan is a green thumb who provides tips to participants. She also gives lessons on canning produce.
"The point is to give people better nutrition through a choice of their own homegrown vegetables," Blickhan said. "It’s a more natural approach. The participants will be able to take the skills they’ve learned and apply them to their lives."
Garza and Hill are at the plot just about every night. Only one thing comes before hoeing, picking and admiring.
"I have church on Wednesdays," Garza said. "I’m not here then."
For more information about Community Garden or other NECAC programs, call Blickhan at 573-633-2210 or visit the NECAC Shelby County Service Center at 204 E. Third in Shelbyville.