The Fellowship Cup is taking applications for residents interested in planting produce in the Community Garden on the corner of South Jackson Street and West Clay Street in Mt. Pleasant.
This is the first year the Fellowship Cup is opening up the Community Garden to any resident interested in gardening, whereas in previous years plots were designated to Fellowship Cup clients only. There is no fee for a plot and gardeners must abide by the Community Garden guidelines.
“It’s a time to unwind, get some exercise. One of the things I really like about it is getting fresh greens from garden to table,” said Ken Brown, director of the Fellowship Cup.
Garden plots are four by eight feet and are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. There are three raised plots available to gardeners who are differently abled.
Applications are available every spring. Plots must be planted by June 15, and must be cleaned up by the end of the season garden work day in October.
Gardeners must keep the paths around their plot clear of trash, weeds and plant growth; pick produce promptly; return borrowed garden equipment to its proper place; put weeds or other waste vegetation in the designated areas; and cannot pick from other garden plots without permission.
Gardeners are also expected to volunteer during at least one out of three garden work days a year. Extra produce can be donated to the Fellowship Cup or left in a designated place in the garden.
Tomatoes are successful almost to a fault in the Community Garden, Brown said, encouraging people to experiment with a variety of seasonal produce.
“I think people will be surprised by what the Iowa climate can handle,” Brown said.
Brown said there will be information provided throughout the summer and fall to assist newer gardeners and help them be successful. There will be a big fall harvest celebration at the end of the growing season.
Abigail Heaton, a volunteer with the Community Garden, said the Community Garden is the perfect opportunity for a beginner gardener. The Fellowship Cup provides the tools, water and knowledge a novice gardener may need to be successful.
“It’s more about people than gardening,” Heaton said. “There will be events at the garden, work days, celebration for harvest and cleanup. We’re hoping to get people here in the garden, enjoying it, the fresh produce and each other.”
Heaton turned to gardening after having a very stressful job. It was therapeutic, and she learned how to be a better cook because of it, she said.
“It’s stress relief and good food,” Heaton said. “You’re not a gardener if you haven’t killed a plant.”
Chuck Albright, a Master Gardener, will be one experienced gardener available to assist novices ready to take on the new challenge of gardening.
Albright said any typical plants should grow well in the Community Garden, such as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, zucchini, turnips, carrots, radishes, lettuce and more. Some plants may require more care than others.
The plots will be filled with potting mix rather than garden soil to make it easier for newby gardeners to work with their fingers, Albright said.
“You don’t need many tools,” Albright said. “If you’re careful about where you plant and keep track of anything that comes up in between, it’s a weed and you can pull that pretty early.”
Albright suggested gardeners check out the Mt. Pleasant Library for gardening books, specifically Square Foot Gardening, which he has found helpful over the years.
Another tool Albright has found useful is the Kitchen Garden Planner on gardeners.com, which offers a way to design a garden and print it off to take to the store to purchase seed and then to the garden to plant it.
Orscheln Farm & Home, Walmart and Hy-Vee are great places to get seed and starter plants like tomatoes and peppers that began growing in March and need to be replanted, Albright said.
“It’s easy to get started,” Albright said encouragingly. “It’s not a huge area to take care of. If the rabbits get it, you just plant it again. You’ll grow something, and a lot of times you’ll be surprised how well it goes.”
Applications can be found at the Fellowship Cup at 203 North Jefferson Street in Mt. Pleasant or on their Facebook page at the Fellowship Cup.
Questions can be directed to the Fellowship Cup at 319-385-3242.