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Garden group ready to show market support

March 14, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

On March 19, Austintown Farmer's Market and Woodside Community Gardens will come together for the first time to support one another. The gardeners will be showing township youth and adults the aspect of growing from the seed up.

The partnership is a new way to kick off the Austintown Farmer's Market that is held through the summer months at Austintown Township Park on Kirk Road. Market director Shannon Lehn said this is a great partnership and anyone can attend and learn about planting from seed.

As for Woodside Community Gardens, it all began five years ago in 2013. With the completion of the new elementary and intermediate school buildings west of Fitch High School, the former schools were demolished. Woodside Elementary was taken down early in 2013 and the property was filled in and became a community garden last year.

To operate a community garden required the help of local garden enthusiasts and residents. Current garden director Andrea Bowden explained how things were set up.

"We currently have a board of directors that has 15 people on it," she said. "Some of them are silent members such as just supporters or money backers. There are about 10 of us from the board who run all the events, fundraisers, and gardening days together. We then have volunteers who just come out and help on gardening nights or at the fundraisers, and some people help in ways such as dropping of jugs of water when we are planting a new area or donating items we need."

She added there are a half dozen children who live in the neighborhood and like to come out and help. They will help shovel dirt and mulch into wheelbarrows to be moved or help rake it out.

Presently, the gardeners are carrying water onto the site to keep the plants watered. The eventual goal is to raise funds to drill a well so they will always have water.

"Due to the lack of water on the property last year we only grew three raised beds from a donation," Bowden said. "There were tomatoes, several types of peppers, cabbage, broccoli, oregano, parsley, and cilantro harvested."

She said the sunflower field was planted and nature took care of the watering.

Sunflowers are easy to grow and thus will be the seed the children at the March 19 event will be using. They will each get to understand how to grow from seed and will be able to take their seeds home to continue watching them grow.

"This will be an easy project for the kids, once they are done learning the 'how to' and completing the planting of the seed at the class, they will only need to find the cup a warm sunny window and keep the soil moist until the seed sprouts," Bowden said. "After that they will need to water the seedling as the soil dries out."

The majority of the class will be a well-rounded learning session about how to grow a garden from seed and the benefits of having a home garden and eating fresh fruits and vegetables from places one knows about, compared to the grocery store.

"While the event is free, registration is required," Lehn said.

Those wishing to attend can register by emailing or by calling 330-349-2503 and leaving a message with the child or children's first name and age.

Bowden and Lehn both agree this partnership will benefit both entities as well as the residents of Austintown.

"I am hoping it will help spread the word about our garden on the southwestern part of town and visa-versa for the market," Bowden said. "The more who know about both projects, the greater volunteer and supporter chances we will get as well as attendance to our fundraisers, and I am hoping it will do the same for the farmers market as well."



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