In its second year, all the Buckeye Lake Community Garden needs is more gardeners to really get rolling.
The gardens, located just off of Mill Dam Road near the Blue Heron Manor and the village’s water tower, started last year as part of a Creating Healthy Communities grant from the Ohio Department of Health to the Licking County Health Department.
“The grant is designed to help people get healthier by making healthy food available, get more active and curb tobacco use,” Nicole Smith, with the county health department, said.
Smith added that the village had been considering a community garden and it fit one of the grant’s objectives.
Buckeye Lake resident Katherine “Kitty” Zwissler, who helped write the grant application, said she felt the gardens could benefit everyone in the community.
“These gardens are being reserved for people who either live in or work in the village,” she said. “It will help teach healthy eating habits and let kids experience the joy of watching plants they planted grow.”
Noel Joyce, a volunteer who helps with the gardens, said because the area does have a high level of poverty, the gardens are a good way to make fresh produce available and encourage healthy living.
In addition to the available garden plots, there are raised garden beds for the handicapped and the elderly.
Donna Thompson, resident at Blue Heron Manor retirement village, said she likes the gardening beds. Thompson has mobility problems, so having the option to garden closer to her home is one she appreciates.
“The beds are great for us seniors,” she said. “The rest of the plots are for people who can get down. It’s just a wonderful thing that Kitty has done for us, she really thinks of everyone.”
Jeryne Peterson said she and her partner Don Roberts helped Zwissler build the first set of raised beds and that the elderly have expressed their appreciation in them, as well as interest for more beds for more seniors.
“These are very valuable assets if they are done right,” she said. “There aren’t enough fresh veggies in the area and that’s a problem. But with the beds and the gardens, this can really answer the problem and bring the community together.”
So far, 10 families have signed up to take a plot this year, but Zwissler said there is plenty of room. She added that anyone interested just needs to apply at the village office. The plots are free to the public. Seeds and gardening resources are available through the Buckeye Lake Library.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to help the people who are eligible,” Zwissler said. “Gardening will get families outside and involved and help bring the community together.”