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March 15, 2014

Community gardens spur growing together

Allison Brook Park, Ladybug Landing are places to plant in Jeffersonville

JEFFERSONVILLE — As springtime finally comes within sight, the city’s neighborhoods are readying community gardens for the first buds of the season.

The gardens at Allison Brook Park — at the corner of Allison Lane and Middle Road — are about a month away from being completed, said Paul Northam, Parks and Recreation Department director.

“We’re very excited about it,” Northam said.

The 36 western red cedar boxes for raised beds will be constructed in about a week. From there, soil will be brought in for the boxes and mulch for the common areas in the center of the gardens. The final piece of construction will be the fence around the whole area, which will most likely be installed in three or four weeks, Northam said.

Two of the raised beds will be two feet tall and handicapped accessible. The rest of the beds will be 10 inches tall and will vary in size, including eight by 12 inches, 4 by 12 inches and 4 by 4 inches sizes.

The gardens also will have benches in the center and a picnic area in the back with a couple of permanent grills.

The only part of the community garden that hasn’t been planned is what will grow there.

“That’s going to be up to the gardener,” Northam said.

Renting a box will cost $25 per season, which will start sometime in April and end in November.

Northam said that community gardens help bring neighbors together.

“It’s for residents who don’t have large yards and an area to grow,” Northam said. “It gives them a chance to meet and talk with their neighbors. We’re hoping that the youth get involved with it and learn about gardens and growing vegetables.”

Those interested in reserving a box can call Judith VanGilder, executive assistant to Mayor Mike Moore, at 812-285-6400.

ANOTHER PLOT

Ladybug Landing, a community garden in the Terraces of Park Place neighborhood, will soon be seeing gardeners returning to its plots when the weather warms up, as well.

Josh Rodriquez, president of the Terraces Park Place Neighborhood Association, said that Jeffersonville residents have continued to rent out gardens every year since its opening in 2012.

“We’ve progressed really good,” Rodriquez said. “It’s pretty successful.”

Gardeners themselves aren’t just residents of the neighborhood. Rodriquez said people from all over, including a gardener from New Albany, rent boxes.

The garden has 27 raised beds for the public; three regular beds that are run by the neighborhood association are not available to rent.

Ladybug Landing also has the Little Free Library, where people can take a book or leave a book. The library is mounted to the side of the garden’s shed.

Rodriquez said other plans for the garden are in the works, including a psedo-log cabin and an outdoor compost pit.

Only two gardens are still available to rent — one small and one medium, and Rodriquez advises calling sooner rather than later to snag a spot. Small plots are $50 per year, medium plots are $70 per year and large plots are $100. These costs include access to gardening equipment, fertilizer, water and other necessities.

“All they have to do is come and garden,” he said.

Since Ladybug Landing has opened, Rodriquez said that he has seen residents grow closer.

“It adds a lot to a neighborhood,” he said. “People that you wouldn’t think would like something like that, they end up liking it. There’s a lot of camaraderie that goes on there.”

He also said neighbors have had the opportunity to learn not just about gardening, but also about the community around them.

“It’s a very good learning process,” he said. “I think it’s been a good example for the city of Jeff because it’s been the coordination of people making that a successful project.”

Those interested in renting the two remaining plots or donating money to the garden can contact Rodriquez by email at joshrodriquez@twc.com

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