by Jennifer Sierra
Last weekend the members of Crossroads Church in Cincinnati came to Dayton, Kentucky to give their time and energy to our community garden. Many people don’t realize there has been a community garden in Dayton, Kentucky for many years. It was started by a group of volunteers with the Main Street Association including, Leslie Carr, Joe Neary, Barry Baker and Ben Baker. A couple of years ago the torch was passed to Bess Francis and Tara Chambers who have now handed it off to Chris Kubik to organize.
Chris and his group of 8- 10 other volunteers, are trying to take the community garden in Dayton to the next level. While working with the volunteers from Crossroads last weekend as part of “Go Cincinnati”, they created a stone walkway, installed a post for a “Little Library” to be mounted, made a trellis for blackberries, built three bins for compost, made 6 raised beds for vegetable gardens and filled them with soil. The kids that were there planted potatoes, peppers and squash. Anthony Cadle, Dayton’s Main Street Manager, procured 11 yards of potting soil for the garden and some telephone poles for beer hops. Doug Simpson was the Crossroads liaison and he took time to come down to prep the ground the prior weekend so the volunteers could hit the ground running last Saturday.
When asked how the garden was funded Kubik said they used grants from The Campbell County Extension Office and are selling t-shirts as well as taking donations. David Kessler from the Extension Office donated tomatoes, cauliflower, kale and potatoes as well as some cabbage.
The way the garden works is people volunteer their time to work in the garden then they get to reap the fruits of their labor. Most cities charge people up to $80.00 to rent space in a community garden. Dayton’s Community Garden is free to join but you have to put in the volunteer hours and then you are free to take what you need from the garden at harvest time. There are members of the community garden that are able to feed their family through the garden and not just working the garden as a hobby.
Chris said while there is an inherent risk of vandalism by having a community garden that is in the middle of an urban area, they haven’t had any incidents other than a bucket being taken or some garbage being left in the garden. “Ideally it is a place where people want to go and feel like it belongs to everyone. We are trying to make it visible from the street so nothing shady goes on there.” They recently installed a security camera as a preventative step against vandalism.
The future of the community garden looks bright. While they grow mostly vegetables now the gardeners are hoping to grow barley and teach people how to make their own bread. They also are growing hops for beer with the goal of selling the hops to local breweries. The garden is able to sustain 20 volunteers so there is room to join. Kubik is hopeful that as this garden takes off and proves its sustainability, Dayton will find room for other community gardens around the city to feed other families that either need the food or just want to garden for a hobby.
If you are interested in joining, please contact Chris Kubik through Facebook. You may also donate to the community garden by buying a t-shirt for $15.00. T-shirts can be purchased through the Dayton Community Garden Facebook page.