Community garden a hit so far


Siblings Zachary, left, 5, and Nicole Mehringer, 8, and brothers Isaac, 6, and Samuel Rayls, 8, all of Jasper, walked along and dug in the dirt of the Dubois County Community Garden on Power Drive in Jasper on Thursday. Community garden participants dug their shovels into the dirt to signify the groundbreaking of the garden and to celebrate Earth Day. Planting will begin in the plots about a week after the land has been fertilized and tilled.


Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — For Jasper resident Danny Rayls, the Dubois County Community Garden is a chance to teach his sons Samuel, 8, and Isaac, 6, a lesson.

“We want to teach them where our food comes from,” he said. “They’ll get a little more appreciation of what it takes to grow it.”

Rayls’ family is one of 19 participants so far in the first year of the countywide community garden, which broke ground Thursday on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

The community garden “is a great idea,” he said. “It gives people the chance to grow a garden who can’t where they live or who want to learn to grow things.”

The garden, just to the south of the Kimball Education Center on Power Drive, is a project spearheaded by Tri-Cap.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Debbie Schmitt, of Tri-Cap, told the approximately 30 people at the groundbreaking.

Kimball donated the use of an acre of land for the garden. The land can hold about 140 10-by-15 plots. About 20 plots have been plowed, of which all but one has been claimed.

“We thought five (participants) would be good,” Tri-Cap employee Paige Stradtner said, noting that more plots may need to be plowed to accommodate more gardeners if interest continues to grow.

The plowed land will be fertilized with manure and turned again before gardeners can unveil their green thumbs and get their hands dirty in the organic garden. An organic garden is one that is grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or other products.

“We hope to be able to plant soon,” Stradtner said. “Maybe in a week or two we’ll be ready.”

At the groundbreaking, Huntingburg Mayor Marvin Belcher told the crowd that the city plans to form a community garden next year and challenged other communities to do the same. Though the county garden is open to any county resident, more gardens equal more involvement, he said.

A new community garden in Dale already is under way this year with seeds in the ground.

This morning, the mayor cited education and a healthier lifestyle as the basis for his challenge.

“It’s for education and to get the kids away from MTV, computers and games,” he said. “It gets them out and doing something. I think it’s a fantastic idea, and hats off to the people that started it.”

Rayls said his sons sometimes won’t eat store-bought vegetables because they don’t taste the same as the ones they grow in a small garden at home. So having a bigger garden will help his family.

“We’ll be able to put out vegetables we wouldn’t normally be able to grow,” he said.

Purdue Extension-Dubois County and Old National Bank are also participating in the project, helping it get off the ground toward a successful first year.

Green Thumb Garden Center in Jasper, another of the participating businesses, will offer discounts on products for the community garden. Gardeners will receive a card that identifies them as participants.

Contact Alexandra Sondeen at

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