It’s garden enrollment time again! Several of Columbia’s local gardening organizations invite all residents to get growing, and offer many opportunities for breaking ground.
One option is the Opportunity Gardens program through the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture. Open to all low-income residents, the program provides free mentoring services and garden supplies to empower people to grow their own fresh food and sharing with others. Clients that live in public housing or in a home may apply for the program and are expected to care for their plots for many years, with the help of CCUA garden gurus. Participants graduate at the end of three years with enough skills to continue growing independently. Download and fill out an application from the Opportunity Gardens website, or call for an application at (573) 514-4174.
The Community Garden Coalition of Columbia organizes 11 Neighborhood Garden plots for anyone in the community to get involved with (see map). Depending on where one lives, there are several close-by plots; however, the Refugee and Immigration Services office has a special relationship with the Broadway Christian Church plot, home of the Columbia Refugee Garden. The garden is coordinated by Don Day, who claims one proof of his gardening skills – he chuckles, pulling out a rubber green thumb he carries in his pocket. Last year, between 20 and 30 refugee families participated in the garden, from whom Day loves to hear stories and with whom he loves to work. Many diverse plants cover the grounds, resulting from various tastes of refugees from many different countries. Day hopes to expand the plots and get gardeners involved with the Master Gardener Program in the coming season.
For some extra help, the Missouri Master Gardener Program through MU Extension provides hotlines for questions, workshops, garden show booths and demonstration projects to spread gardening information to thousands of Missourians each year. Master Gardeners invite those with questions about vegetable gardening to stop by The Learning Garden at the Broadway Christian Church plots Mondays at 9 a.m. and Thursdays at 5:15 p.m. The Program will also be providing “Third Thursdays” trainings at 6:30 p.m. at the Learning garden beginning April 16. “We should be a model for best practice, especially for those from different climates and cultures,” Ellen Condron, a Master Gardner of Columbia, said.
For more information and applications, visit the front desk at the RIS office or the websites of each program.