In the Fall of 2018, John and I went to the Tecumseh School Board and asked if we could lease the site of the old Westlake Elementary School. They agreed to lease it to us for $1 a year.
This site is 9.4 acres! 409464 square feet!!!! Now part of that is paved parking lot - a guess would be 2000 square feet of parking lot. The population of New Carlisle was estimated at 5,586 (2017). That means a bit more than 72 square feet per person in New Carlisle. Since John has an estimate that 16 square feet can provide enough vegetables for 1 person, that means we have enough space there alone to feed more than 89,000 people! Free! (well, realistically we can probably not provide THAT much seed and plants!. I do get a thrill out of thinking about the entire city working together to feed themselves though!),
With all of that land to maintain we really couldn't mow it with hand mowers. John was able to secure a grant from the National Church of the Brethren's Going to the Garden program ( http://www.brethren.org/peacebuilding/going-to-the-garden.html ) to purchase a tractor so that we could be good neighbors with a nice "yard."
This year was was a challenge. With all of the rain in the spring it was a real challenge getting good topsoil. We got 20 - 4'x 4' cedar raised beds. We got most of them stained, and filled and many of them planted. We also hired someone to come in plow about half an acre to plant corn. With all of the rain that followed, it was tough getting it disked to plant and consequently we only planted 2 long rows of corn. Then the lack of rain did us (and other local farmers) in. The corn we got though was really good. One of the things going through my mind is having enough corn that we could have a corn festival at the garden one year! The WHOLE community!!! Ah, dreams! They keep us going!
We have some other visions for developing the space. We have talked about a play area for kids, a dog park in part of it, an exercise park, an orchard.....let your mind go wild! One dream we have had will start coming to fruition this fall. We are getting a hoop house! It will likely be 16' x 48' and installed this month. I will keep you all posted!
There is an existing pump on the property. We have purchased solar panels to operate it and had started getting containers to act as a reservoir. We need someone to install the system.
With so much grass this year, we had to purchase a small tractor. Roger Fenton has been over there regularly mowing and moving things around. Say "Hi" if you see him over there!
From John Krabacher on our Facebook page (see our page at New Carlisle Community Garden - like us!)
Pat Krabacher has a particular interest in native plants and has planted:
The 5 trees at the end are the start of a Bird Sanctuary. Like John said "Nothing like a big oak tree can last for hundred years."