MOUNT VERNON — Community gardens have taken root in Mount Vernon thanks to the Knox County Community Garden Initiative. The idea for community gardens was to create a local means of providing nutritious, fresh foods to supplement the local Hot Meals program and for Knox County residents to supplement food dollars by growing organic produce.
Hot Meals is a ministry that provides a nutritious meal, seven days a week, to anyone seeking nourishment and/or companionship. For the last 12 years, seven churches have served the Hot Meals program.
Erin Salva, coordinator of disability services at Kenyon College and coordinator for the Knox County community gardens, proposed the idea for community gardens at an ecumenical meeting. The idea was a success, and so was she as its coordinator.
Five years ago, Faith Lutheran Church started the first community garden. First Church of the Nazarene, hosted by the Nazarene church on Coshocton Avenue, was the second and Arch Avenue Park Community Garden opened this year.
With the help of village council and a nurse practitioner, an effort is developing to plant a garden site in Danville.
The community garden is a way of communicating with others about the value of food that is sown, grown and shared among friends. Participants can plant their own free plot and they can help tend the community plots that augment the local food programs. The availability of plot space is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“What we’re seeing,” stated Salva, “is a lot of the Hot Meals people are planting free plots.” It’s bringing people together and produces healthy, fresh food to share.
Plot “owners” tend their vegetables when they can, but they have help. Salva, along with Master Gardener Arthur Bolduc and Kenyon intern Herb Page tend to the gardens every week. They check in, they water, and they advise new gardeners. Watering is easy at Arch Avenue where the city provides a running water pump.