Jamestown Community Gardens opens for sixth season
In the midst of a global health pandemic, some in the Buffalo City are working to provide a space to bolster mental and physical health.
A 12-foot by 12-foot space to be exact.
The Jamestown Community Gardens is now accepting applications for the 2020 growing season. John Zvirovski, Community Gardens coordinator, said plots will likely be tilled by the first week in May. He said plots will likely be ready to be planted by May 15. Applications for a 12-foot by 12-foot garden plot are available on the Jamestown Community Gardens' website at https://www.jamestowncommunitygardens.org/ .
"People do like the idea of growing their own food, especially families that have kids because they can kind of get them involved in that process," Zvirovski said. "It's just a good way to get out, learn some new things, get a little bit of air and visit with some others who have the same interest."
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zvirovski said there may be some hesitation related to engaging with other community members in the garden. Zvirovski said social distancing practices are still able to be adopted while in the communal garden space.
"There might be a little hesitation on how some people view it," Zvirovski said of gardening during the pandemic. "But I think people who have rented before, and we usually get a lot of repeat renters, they know how few people are out there at any one time because everybody has a different schedule and they are not out there daily."
Zvirovski said that in his five years with Jamestown Community Gardens the most people he has seen in the plots at one time were approximately seven despite the gardens growing by 40 plots since the organization's inception.
"We have a lot of people who live in apartments or places that don't have yards and such so it gives (them) an opportunity to go get a space that is either within walking distance or just a quick drive in town," Zvirovski said.
The Community Gardens began with 20 plots back in 2015. In 2019 the organization had grown to 60 garden beds - all of which were filled. Zvirovski said he expects the same type of response from the community this season. Jamestown Seed Library steward Laurie Podoll said she has been surprised by how many people have utilized the seed library during the pandemic.
"Hopefully both of them will take down some barriers for people who haven't gardened before or have a limited income or really feel the need to be more in control of their food supply," Podoll said of the Community Gardens and seed library. "Maybe they're not as invested yet to get a whole garden, put a whole lot of money into seeds or till up their backyard but this way they can have (a garden)."
The seed library is a collaboration between the Jamestown Community Gardens and the Stutsman County Library, providing community members the means to grow their own food at no cost. Podoll receives free seed packets from seed companies that are then offered to Jamestown residents. People can call the Stutsman County Library branch to place a seed order and staff will fill and deliver curbside.
Once seeds are obtained - from the seed library or other sources - planting is on the horizon. Rental fees for the Community Gardens plots are $30 per plot plus a $30 refundable plot maintenance deposit for the first plot rented. Zvirovski said if patrons are interested in additional plots there is a $15 nonrefundable charge per plot. There is no limit as to how many plots can be rented at this time.
"To have a community garden plot is relatively inexpensive (and) you can be with other people but you can still be within the social distancing," Podoll said. "We all know that through this whole COVID thing, to be out and to be physical does just as much for your physical health as it does for your mental health."
In an effort to promote physical and mental wellness the Community Garden plots are all organic, banning the use of pesticides, harsh fertilizers and insecticides. The seed library offers interested community gardeners more than 200 varieties of free-year-old seeds to plant.
"I think gardening is a great way (for people) to feel good about themselves," Podoll said. "They are a part of something growing and they can see an end result that is usually good. Gardening is also a great way to make social connections - sharing vegetables with your friends or your neighbors."