Time to get GROWing!

Time to get GROWing!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Growing plots, compost bins, & rain barrels available to York gardeners

York resident Bob Sautter is ready for spring—for warm sun, the smell of fresh turned earth, and the promise of a new growing season. Sautter is a regular at the Project GROW community garden plots and has already reserved his space for the 2020 season. “I usually plant onions and cabbage in early April,” he said. “The garden plots are easy access, with plenty of water and sunlight. I’ve used the plots for three years and it’s been a great experience.”

Sautter appreciates that the garden plots are pre-tilled and weed free, a blank slate at the beginning of spring. “Things grow pretty good out there,” he says, noting that he’s grown everything from potatoes to pumpkins in the community garden plots. The 20’ x 15’ plots are a great alternative for those like Sautter, who love to garden but don’t have the land to do it at home. “Between the fence and the sprinkler line, as well as a big shade tree, I am pretty limited on space for a garden,” he said.

While Sautter doesn’t have kids, he encourages families to consider having a garden plot at Project GROW. “It’s a great family activity. Mom and dad and the kids, all digging in the dirt together.”

The community garden plots are part of Project GROW (Growing Rotational crops on Wellfield), a partnership between the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District and the City of York. The Upper Big Blue NRD manages the land and encourages healthy growing practices that will improve soil health and the water supply for York residents. In addition to the garden plots, there is also a pollinator patch and a fruit orchard on the property. Once it is well established and productive, fruit from the orchard will be available to community nonprofit organizations to harvest and sell as a fundraiser opportunity.

Project GROW currently has 12 garden plots available, however the supply can increase with demand. Applications for the 2020 season are now available to growers at www.upperbigblue.org/projectgrow. There is a $20 water charge for the season due with applications. There is also a $50 refundable deposit required before a plot can be assigned. This deposit will be returned in the fall after a plot has been cleaned up at the end of the growing season.

New this year is a secured shed on the property for growers, provided by the York Chamber of Commerce. During the winter months, the shed was used as “Santa’s Hut” for downtown Christmas events. “When we had the hut built, I felt it was a waste to just use it for six weeks,” said Madonna Mogul, chamber director. “With that, we came up with the garden shed for Project GROW gardeners. We thought this would be helpful so they wouldn’t have to haul their tools around in their cars all summer.”

An additional benefit to area growers comes from a Source Water Protection Grant from the Nebraska Department of Environment. This grant provides for a select amount of compost bins and rain barrels for York residents. Applications for these gardening accessories are also available at www.upperbigblue.org/projectgrow.

Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of material that goes into landfills and turn food scraps and yard waste into plant nutrition. Composting is easy to do, good for the earth, and great for the garden. Funding is available to purchase 25 compost bins for York-area homeowners through this grant. Approved participants will receive a onetime payment of $50.00 reimbursement for the purchase of a compost bin. 

Rain barrels capture water from a roof and hold it for later use, such as watering lawns, gardens or indoor plants. Collecting roof runoff in rain barrels is a great way to conserve water and provides free water for use in a landscape. Funding is available to purchase 50 rain barrels for York-area homeowners. Approved participants will receive a onetime payment of $75.00 reimbursement for the purchase of a rain barrel. 

For other questions about Project GROW, contact Dan Leininger, Upper Big Blue NRD water conservationist and Project GROW coordinator, at dleininger@upperbigblue.org or (402) 362-6601.