View Mobile Site

PLANT PUSH ‘GROWS’ NATIONAL

Local community gardens wrapping up season

POSTED September 20, 2012 10:43 p.m.
View More »

BY STEPHANIE YOUNG
Tribune Correspondent

Donna Krug is so enthusiastic about plant-based cooking that her copy of a whole foods cookbook has fallen apart.
“It wore out to the point I had to 3-hole punch it,” she said.
Krug, family and consumer sciences agent for the Barton County Extension Office, submitted a fact sheet she developed, called “More Plants on the Plate,” to K-state Research and Extension in 2010. It was reviewed and chosen for printing in July 2011.
She will present her program – which includes a CD, four-page fact sheet, four-page leader’s guide, Power Point presentation, pre-test and post-test, and four pages of recipes – to the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences on Sept. 25 in Columbus, Ohio. She hopes her ideas spark similar programs around the country.
“It’s kind of exciting to see something that came from an idea now go to people who could be from anywhere in the country,” she said.
The fact sheet includes the health benefits of consuming more plants, common questions and answers and a plant protein chart.
Krug’s push for plants – including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds – began 14 years ago when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. He is now cancer-free, but the diagnosis changed the way they eat.
Later, in 2009, Krug – who has worked for the extension office in Great Bend for 23 years – took three online classes offered by Cornell University of New York and received her plant-based nutrition certification.
“A lot of times people pick their passions based on what’s going on in their lives,” said Krug, who grew up on a Kansas farm eating the traditional meat and potatoes diet. “You think you’re eating healthy, but then you start evaluating and find there is a lot of room for improvement. I really do feel it matters what we eat. I feel like I’m healthier now.”
The couple got a cookbook and agreed to make one meal from it each week.
“The first thing we made was so good, we didn’t wait a week for the next one,” she said.
Krug said she hopes people don’t immediately dismiss the idea of plant-based nutrition.
“When they hear ‘plant-based diet,’ a lot of people think you’re a vegetarian hippie,” she said. “It doesn’t mean don’t eat meat. I just want people to consider eating more vegetables.”
You can get the fact sheet at  ksre.ksu.edu/library/fntr2/mf2977.pdf.

Gardens grow along with sense of community
As the growing season nears its close, coordinators of four local community gardens are taking stock of their yield and participation.
“We had 788 pounds of potatoes, 400 pounds of tomatoes, more than 300 pounds of okra,” said Teddy Williamson, director of the Hoisington Community Garden at the First United Methodist Church, 467 W. 3rd St.
The 100-by-150-foot garden was maintained by about five regular volunteers and its produce was offered to the public at stands for a freewill donation and to Hoisington’s food pantry on days it was open.
“We had a coffee can out and raised enough to do the watering and still have funds for next year,” she said.
All volunteers were allowed to pick enough vegetables for their own family too, Williamson said.
Bob Lapierre, coordinator for the community garden at Great Bend’s Community Christian Church, 253 NE 30 Road, summed up the growing season briefly.
“It was hot and dry,” he said.
A 10-by-20-foot plot in the garden, which sits on an acre of land by the church, costs $25. All watering is provided by the church.
About 75 percent of the garden was used this year, Lapierre said. Next year, the planning will kick off early April with watering to begin May, he said.
“We’re going to knuckle down for the winter and in the spring we’ll till it again,” he said.
The First Congregational United Church of Christ, 3400 21st St. in Great Bend, maintains a smaller garden outside the church, in the middle of a neighborhood. It is free to use a 10-by-5-foot plot as long as you sign up ahead of time.
“We had some people from the previous year and some new ones,” said MaryAnn June, who helps coordinate garden efforts.
The garden is in its third year and also offers one plot – marked with yellow stakes declaring “PUBLIC” – with produce for anyone in the community.
“If someone is walking or driving by, they are welcome to pick some (from the public plot),” June said. “We appreciate that. If it says ‘public,’ help yourself.”
Cucumbers did especially well this year, June said.
“They were just crazy; they went wild,” she said. “Every Sunday there was a pile of cucumbers in the church.”
Church volunteers do the initial tilling and handle watering throughout the season.
Park Garden, near Park Elementary School at 1801 Williams St., produced everything from cauliflower to watermelon, and rhubarb to potatoes, said Gina Munz, who plants the 100-by-100-foot garden along with a friend.
And lots of okra.
“Okra, okra, okra,” she said. “People love okra.”
It is now a thriving neighborhood garden, though it didn’t get its start that way.
“Shirley Smith made it four times bigger than I had originally planned,” she said of the woman she gardens with. “I like to grow things and I can’t eat it all. So the whole neighborhood comes and picks out of the garden. There’s not a person within three blocks of here that hasn’t eaten from it. It’s a demonstration of what can be done.”
Munz hand-waters the garden, a task which takes about two hours. The garden’s progress can be followed at parkgarden.wordpress.com.
Janel Rose, public health educator for the Barton County Health Department, said the community gardens – part of a local initiative – offer multiple benefits including improved health of residents via food and exercise, improved sense of community, belonging and connection to nature, increased cultural interaction among different groups and generations, environmental impact in terms of reduced runoff and use of local produce, a source of income at farmer’s markets, and decreased crime.
“There’s a sense of ownership when you grow something yourself,” Rose said. “My role is to help people get community gardens started. We still have room for more.”

COMMENTS

  • Bookmark and Share

Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

POST A COMMENT


Please wait ...