Sheri McNeil hopes to see her Roeland Park neighbors come together to care for the new community garden.
After a stormwater infrastructure project left a flat, open area in Juniper Park, McNeil realized the spot was “perfect for growing.”
“I approached the city to ask them if they’d be willing to let us start a community garden there and they were all in favor of that,” she said. “So we’ve just slowly moved through the steps of getting a community garden started.”
The garden is still in its beginning phases. McNeil bought a large water tote and two 4-by-12 cedar beds for planting.
“The city at one time had spoken about filling the water container if I would get one. I’m still waiting to hear on that, and if not then I’m going to hook it to my downspouts and just use rainwater,” she said.
City Administrator Aaron Otto said the city may provide some services in the future, but that has yet to be determined. So far the garden has not cost the city a dime.
“We’ve had some really hardworking volunteers who have taken a big lead and tried to make this happen,” he said.
Because the land is surplus, the city is allowing residents to rent the space but is waiving the fee for the first three years due to gardeners’ startup costs. McNeil said the startup cost to buy a cedar frame for a bed and organic soil to fill it is about $120.
Currently McNeil is the only resident using the garden but she said she has heard from many neighbors interested in using the remaining space, which can hold about 12 more beds.
Two beds will be reserved to grow sweet potatoes for the Sweet Potato Project, a charity project that aims to grow 10,000 pound of sweet potatoes for Harvesters - the Community Food Network.
McNeil hopes the community will pitch in to support the cost of those beds, but “if not, I really think it’s a good, worthwhile project and I would probably just go ahead and do it anyway,” she said.
She also hopes friendships and a “small-town feel” will blossom as the crops do.
“It’s great to have (a garden) in your yard but when you’ve got a community garden I think you get to know more of your neighbors, and it seems like you’ve got something in common right from the start, so you’ve got a good starting place to make new friends,” she said.
To reach Mackenzie Clark, call 816-234-4905 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.