A little help, a little luck and a 20-by-20-foot plot of land will make a difference for some 28 Sioux County families. They are the stewards who will be tending the Garden of ARC, a new community garden project in Orange City. The American Reformed Church (ARC), the Holland Chapter FFA, ISU Extension in Sioux County and other partners are cooperating in this effort to help local families raise a portion of their food supply.
Last September, a committee from the church contacted the FFA and Sioux County Extension to ask for help in transforming an alfalfa field next to the church into garden plots, explained Cheryl Heronemus, the county’s ISU Extension education director.
The church had the land, the FFA had the labor and ISU Extension had Master Gardeners and other resources.
“We’re anticipating that a lot of the families won’t be experienced gardeners,” Heronemus said. So Master Gardeners will be “on call” at the garden on Saturday mornings to answer questions and serve as mentors. ISU Extension staff also will teach families about food preservation and the health benefits of increasing fruits and vegetables in their daily diet.
In addition, Heronemus secured a $1,000 Helen LeBaron Hilton grant from Iowa State to combine with other grants, private donations and church funds to pay for seeds, fencing, a tool shed and other supplies.
“All the costs for a community garden are startup costs,” said Garden of ARC representative Carolyn Yoder.
After that, Heronemus added, “it will be very sustainable.”
Sustainability fits perfectly with the Garden of ARC’s mission — to cultivate community through gardening, to provide for the needs of community members and to model and educate care for creation.
As Yoder said, “It’s not just about the food. It’s about getting to know the people.”
“This would not have happened without ISU Extension,” Yoder said, citing the help from Heronemus and the Master Gardeners, the grant-writing assistance and the overall morale boost.
For more information, contact Heronemus, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Yoder at (712) 707-3890.