MEDORA

In hopes of establishing a community garden in Medora, the leader of an after-school program was looking for the perfect green space.

The only opportunity on school property was on a slope, so that wouldn’t work.

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Medora Christian Church was asked about some space behind its building, which is near the school parking lot.

The church’s pastor then remembered Mary Beavers saying she would love to see a garden on property she owns in the 7000 block of West County Road 350S, which is a few blocks from the school.

Shannon Hunsucker, coordinator of the Reach for a Star after-school program, reached out to Beavers, and she agreed to allow the space to be used for a new community garden.

More than 40 students in the after-school program have planted some seeds in biodegradable egg cartons and Styrofoam cups in a classroom, and those soon will be planted in a couple of plots at the garden.

Hunsucker is in the process of spreading the word about the 13 other free plots available to those living or working in or around Medora.

“We’re doing it to try to get the fresh produce out there, to get the kids involved, and we figured if we charged, it wouldn’t happen,” Hunsucker said.

On Thursday, volunteers went door to door to let people know about the garden and sign people up for 10-foot-by-20-foot plots. They are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“If we do end up filling them all up, we may either just go back and till up some more ground or ask somebody if they would be willing to share with somebody, however we can make it work,” Hunsucker said.

The lot is about 1.2 acres, but they are starting by only using 3,200 square feet. Fifteen of the plots will be 10-by-20, while the other one is 10-by-10 and will include a rainwater collection system, which will be used to water the garden.

After finding someone to disk the ground, Hunsucker has people set to do the tilling and plowing.

Bundy Brothers and Sons. Inc in Medora has agreed to donate fertilizer, water and seeds for the garden, which can be used by the students and community.

Hunsucker said just about anything can be planted in the garden as long as herbicides and insecticides are not used.

A kickoff event to begin planting in the garden is set for 9 to 11 a.m. April 29. It will remain open seven days a week from dawn to dusk through Oct. 31.

The idea of starting a community garden in Medora sprung up last year, but it never came to fruition.

In February, Molly Marshall with Healthy Jackson County contacted Hunsucker about the organization looking for ways to lower the obesity rate in the county.

“That’s when the garden came back up, and we were able to get it together this year to make it work,” Hunsucker said.

She talked to Debbie Hackman, who has been involved with Seymour’s community garden, to develop rules and a signup sheet for the garden.

Hunsucker then bought some seeds and soil for the students to plant in the classroom. They spent part of a couple of after-school sessions putting the seeds in egg cartons that she had left over from another project.

“We’ve been talking about the garden for a while and what plants need to grow as far as sun and nutrients in the soil and water,” Hunsucker said. “Then we’ve talked some about what to do with the vegetables as far as different ways to cook them.”

Even though it falls on a Saturday, Hunsucker said she hopes to have some of the after-school students help plant during the kickoff event.

“Then probably that following week, we’ll be down there planting a few more things so that everybody is putting something in the ground,” she said.

The students then will go to the garden once or twice a week to pull weeds, hoe the dirt and do other tasks as needed.

“We’re doing a summer program this year, and we’ll be down there a couple of times a week,” Hunsucker said. “At that point, we’ll probably be doing a little more work as far as maybe start picking a few things. The kids will be full out in there doing the work.”

The produce that comes out of one of the school’s plots will be donated to Medora Christian Church’s food pantry. The rest of the food from the school’s plots will be given out to whoever wants it.

Hunsucker said it’s good for the students to be involved in the gardening process, from planting the seeds to watching them grow to eating the food.

“To sit down and look at a plate and know that everything that is on that plate, you know exactly what’s in it, you know exactly where it came from and you helped get it there, it is so cool,” she said.

“I think they’ll enjoy that, being able to look at it and say, ‘Hey, I did that,’” she said. “Studies show if the kids are involved with the planting and growing of the produce, they are more likely to eat it. I think that’s just another way to try to get them to eat healthy.”

If there’s enough interest, Hunsucker said they may offer a food preservation class in the summer, where students and their parents could learn about freezing, canning and juicing vegetables.

“A lot of people don’t know how to do that stuff anymore,” she said. “I was raised doing that. I can every year, but I know there are so many that don’t, and I feel like the kids need to know how to do that kind of stuff.”

Seventh-grader Julie Bartley and third-grader Ushron Phillips both said they have helped with gardens at home, so they are excited to be able to do that at school, too.

“We get to help our community by just planting seeds and getting dirty,” Julie said.

Ushron said it has been fun helping the younger kids learn about planting and the different types of fruits and vegetables.

Both students said the community garden will bring life to Medora.

“It will make it easier to get fresh veggies. It saves money because you don’t have to drive to Brownstown or Seymour or Bedford to get fresh fruits and veggies,” Julie said.

“When people come into Medora, they are going to see the sign and they are going to see the garden, and the kids are going to want to grow their own garden,” Ushron said.

Hunsucker said she hopes the community takes advantage of the opportunity.

“It’s just something positive for the town and seeing everybody coming together and working together and getting the kids out there and doing something new,” she said. “You can plant a garden, and once you get the plants in the soil, there’s not a lot of expense to it. It’s just time and effort.”

At a glance

Rules for Medora’s new community garden

1. The garden is open seven days a week from dawn to dusk.

2. Plots will be clearly marked with stakes. Do not move or remove the stakes.

3. All gardeners should help maintain the common areas (walkways).

4. Do not park on the grass. Either park in the alley or on the street.

5. Keep insects and weeds under control.

6. Using herbicides and insecticides is strictly prohibited. A list of natural pesticides will be made available to all gardeners.

7. All removed weeds must be placed in the designated containers/area.

8. No pets are allowed in the garden.

9. No rubbish, trash or other nonbiodegradable debris of any kind should be left at the site.

10. If you can no longer maintain your plot, notify Shannon Hunsucker at 812-569-0701.

11. Each gardener must clean and clear his or her plot by Oct. 31.

At a glance

Medora is starting a community garden in the 7000 block of West County Road 350S.

To reserve a 10-foot-by-20-foot plot, contact Shannon Hunsucker at 812-569-0701. A limited amount of plots are available. All plots are free.

Information also is available on the Medora Community Schools Parent Outreach Facebook page.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.