By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY — Organizers are hopeful that planting can begin in the Urban Fusion Community Gardens in New Albany on March 1.
Cedar planting boxes for the gardens — located at 707 Culbertson Ave. — have been built and installed. Jerry Finn, vice president of the nonprofit Keep New Albany Clean and Green which is managing the gardens, said the next step will be to fill the boxes with soil once the weather is more favorable for planting.
Finn said the organization is looking for a volunteer to oversee the project.
“We would love somebody to chair this community garden initiative if they have the time, energy and passion,” he said.
The gardens were to open last year, but the project was delayed after lead contamination was discovered in the soil on the property. To avert potential contamination issues, Finn said elevated planting beds are being used and the soil will be tested to ensure “it’s appropriate and doesn’t contain lead.”
He added that a layer of grass has been planted over the area where the contaminated soil was found. Keep New Albany Clean and Green maintained the amount of lead discovered was only slightly more than what is considered an acceptable level.
An official with the Floyd County Purdue Extension Office said last year that installing raised garden beds is an acceptable method for avoiding lead contamination.
Fifteen beds will be available for rent, and if those are quickly taken, there’s interest in launching community gardens in other areas of New Albany, Finn said.
“We do have some other areas that we’re looking at,” if there’s a need he said. “We’re kind of easing into it this first year.”
For more information on the Urban Fusion Community Gardens, visit the website nacleanandgreen.com, or call Finn at 812-945-4332.