Sowing seeds of a community garden

Thursday, March 22, 2012
Dave Winder, from left, is ready to start breaking up the 1.8 acres of ground for a community garden, on land furnished by Betty and John Nothnagel. The Nothnagel's will also supply water and electricity. (Lorri Sughroe/McCook Daily Gazette)

McCOOK, Nebraska-- Although it's starting from scratch, enthusiasm for a community garden in McCook is starting to grow

"Something kept telling me we needed to do this," said Dave Winder of McCook, who first came up with the idea of a community garden a few years ago. But the idea remained dormant, until John and Betty Nothnagel of McCook stepped in this year and offered to furnish 1.8 acres of land, along with water and electricity, north of the Red Willow County Fairgrounds.

"There's definitely a need for it in the community," Nothnagel said of the garden. "It's an awesome idea."

Other volunteers are Dr. Richard and Pam Klug, who have offered equipment to help break up the ground, and John Kugler, who will donate fertilizer, Winder said.

The produce from the garden will benefit the free community suppers served each Thursday, the McCook Food Pantry, "and anyone else who has a need," Winder said.

In today's economy of high food and gas prices, "More and more people are struggling," he said, noting one recent community supper drew almost 200 people.

He said he wants to plant "a little bit of everything," starting with 1,000 potato hills. But there will also be tomatoes, carrots, green beans, cucumbers and watermelon, to name just a few.

Volunteers are needed, as well anything else that has to do with gardening.

"We're starting from scratch here, so we need everything," he said, including tools, tomato cages and fencing.

But what they really need is manpower. Winder envisions volunteers of all kinds pitching in.

"There's a lot of people out there that have the passion and skill, who can help us do this," he said, mentioning Willow Ridge, youth clubs and churches. "We can use everyone."

Anyone interested in helping with the community garden ministry of the McCook United Methodist Church can contact the church at 345-2445 or Dave Winder at 340-8733 with questions or ideas.

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For the community garden, four teams will be assembled, with a leader for each team. These teams include:

* Financial resources: Developing resources to maintain garden for a minimum of five years; provide equipment required for the community garden.

* Product development and training: Providing information on what types of vegetables and provide a schedule of when to plant and when to harvest each vegetable.

* Green thumb organizers: Recruit and organize volunteers, maintain equipment, maintain and harvest vegetables.

* Distribution and delivery: Develop a list of organizations and individuals that would benefit from produce grown at the community garden (community supper and food pantry). Develop a delivery system for these organizations and individuals. Keep accurate records of goods produced and delivered.

Team leaders will be responsible for keeping their teams focused on the mission and maintaining communications between each team, so the mission can be accomplished.

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