Join in on a neighborhood garden | Columnists | – The Sheridan Press

Join in on a neighborhood garden | Columnists | – The Sheridan Press

Joining a neighborhood garden means getting involved in a community of like-minded people who are working together for a common goal, to provide a space where people can contribute their gardening skills, share knowledge and grow produce for themselves or others. 

While community gardens provide a physical space for growing produce, even more importantly, they provide the opportunity for people to connect; giving families, individuals and classrooms the opportunity to be self-sufficient and grow their own produce while building the community.

Sheridan County is home to 11 community gardens and six school gardens. These gardens vary markedly in size, shape and demographic served. What they have in common is a fellowship and community of like-minded people whose goal it is to raise local produce and serve their community while enjoying the outdoors.

Over the past week, I’ve visited with numerous members of the Sagebrush Community Garden and been amazed at the community within this community garden. Every member brings their own strengths, knowledge and experience level. There is joy, laughter, friendship and plenty of growth in the garden. And not just in the plants. 

Established in 2010 by a group of community members who wanted to start community gardens, this intergenerational garden has doubled the number of gardeners in the past year alone and hosts gardeners between elementary age to 80. Located beside Sagebrush Elementary, the garden is supported by the city of Sheridan and hosts 47 garden plots of various sizes.

Among the members of this community garden are the Sagebrush Student Seed Starters. These students from Sagebrush Elementary have the unique opportunity to use their garden plot as a science experiment, research plot, art station, outdoor learning space and so much more. Students get to plant, water, weed, experiment and harvest throughout the year while learning about dedication, cooperation and resilience. 

Garden Leader Jessie Bennick said that in addition to learning the basics of gardening, the garden has helped students take on new leadership roles and explore new interests all while enjoying being outside and growing their own food.

In talking with Stella Montano, a committee member at the Sagebrush Community Garden, the power of community gardens lies in the camaraderie, knowledge and resilience built by helping one another while growing your own food. Gardeners help each other with watering and weeding. The combination of new and longtime gardeners, local neighbors or folks from across town, has introduced Stella and the other gardeners to people she may never have met any other way.

Jim Douglas and his wife have had a plot at Sagebrush Community Garden for almost eight years. He said that while there is a big turnover of gardeners, “Everyone gets along great and we even exchange produce.” He said that for him, being in the garden is a fun thing to do and it’s a good place to visit and release tensions from the day.

Jim’s garden began as a salsa garden but has since evolved into much more. This year he is growing squash, peas, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers and multiple pollinator plants.