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The Scarlet & Black

College-community ties grow at the Miller Park Garden

The student-run garden across from Younker isn’t the only growing gig in town—Grinnell’s Community Garden has been bringing local garden enthusiasts together for almost two years.

Jordan Scheibel ’09.5, one of the five student founders who set up the garden in June 2009, is excited for the third season of planting and growing. The Community Garden is located only about six or seven blocks south of campus, on High Street.

The decorated sign for the Community Garden at Miller Park sits in front of newly planted seeds that are a part of this community project. While some of the food grown will be distributed to MICA and Community Meal, community members will also be welcome to work and harvest at the garden. Photograph taken by Aaron Barker.

“A lot of people in Grinnell garden, a lot of people in the Midwest garden, but it’s mostly a private endeavor,” said Scheibel. “It’s in people’s backyards, and people may talk about it with their neighbors or their friends, but everyone has their own discrete little garden.”

The Community Garden aims to bring gardening out into the open and to create a community space where people can gather. Moreover, the garden and the workshops serve as an educational space for kids and anyone else to learn about gardening, whether they need a complete introduction or just a few tips.

The garden at Miller Park is holding its second community workshop of the year this Saturday, April 23, from 2 to 4 p.m. The workshop will focus on how to build a three-bin compost bin for yard gardening or kitchen waste.

“The compost bin building workshop is part of a series of workshops which we are doing throughout the year,” explained Scheibel. “The first one was two weeks ago. It was building raised beds, so we brought in cinder blocks and we built eleven raised beds.”

At the last workshop, over half of the participants were students.

“There is quite a bit of student involvement,” said Scheibel. “Participation is definitely encouraged, since a lot of students are interested in this.”

Future workshops between this April and August will include Installing and Using a Rain Barrel, Growing Tomatoes, Keeping Your Garden Weed-free, Starting a Fall Garden and the Community Garden Harvest Festival.

“The idea with the workshops is to get more people to the garden and use it more as an educational space,” said Scheibel. “We’re doing it in conjunction with having people actually rent out plots, which is the first time we’ve done this. This is the third year of the garden.”

There are eight community plots, rented out either as full plots or half plots, as well as Education and Demonstration plots, and Production plots.

“The idea behind the educational and demonstration and production plots is that any kids who come to the garden can help in the planting and maintaining of those plots,” said Scheibel. “At this point, we’re not producing a lot of food, so there’s not going to be a whole lot to donate, but the idea is [that] in the future, as the garden grows, we’d like to produce more and more, in addition to having more and more plots available.”

The Community Garden is approximately forty by fifty feet of tilled space, divided into eleven raised beds. Each raised bed is four by sixteen feet. Though the program began with students, they’re trying to reach out to local residents.

“Our main aim with the individual or the family plots has been community members,” Scheibel said. “A student could have a plot if they wanted to, but the idea is that it’s been a student-run initiative and we wanted to make it more of a community-run initiative.”

Those involved with the garden would like to increase the use of local food in the food pantry and Community Meal.

“That’s where I’d really like to see it go,” said Scheibel. “Eventually, I’d like this garden to become a nonprofit on its own and have a staff. That’s sort of ambitious, but that’s what I’d like to see happen in the long term.”

No registration is necessary for the Saturday composting workshop, and there will tasks for people of all ages. For more information, visit Imagine Grinnell’s website at

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  • J

    Jordan ScheibelApr 22, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Good article, thanks for helping to spread the word about the community garden. I would just note that my position is funded through an Americorps grant with Imagine Grinnell and that Imagine Grinnell is the organization that is now supporting the Community Garden financially and logistically and making all of the projects we are doing this year (the rented plots, workshops, etc.) possible.