June 20, 2021

Community garden grows food and fellowship

The Creston Community Garden has provided a great deal of food to people in the community. Southwestern Community College students, businesses and many volunteers have contributed to the effort.

“We started that to help address food insecurity in Southwest Iowa. It was right at the beginning of the pandemic, and we were all kind of trying to think about what we could do to help and this seemed like a good way,” Kenyon said.

The idea came about during a city council meeting, then really got off the ground when former Creston native Angela Kenyon Davis suggested applying for grants to Mayor Gabe Carroll.

Lauren England, a board member of the garden, said they’re growing tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet peppers, radishes and parsley. She said the vegetables were planted by SWCC agriculture students as part of their principles of horticulture course taught by Susannah Miller. England said they started raising the plants in February.

“Each week a different organization, family or group of friends is responsible for weeding and watering the garden. The intent is for three fourths of the produce to go to the food pantry,” said Jen Kenyon, one the garden’s founders, adding the other fourth is free to be taken by volunteers.

The garden is located at the corner of West Howard and North Oak streets, behind the First United Methodist Church. It measures about 20 feet long by 12 feet wide.

Kenyon said if people would rather pick the food themselves than get it from the food pantry, she’s fine with that.

“So I think even though our intent is for the majority of it to go to the food pantry, I think people around the community are coming in and just enjoying the vegetables we do have for the community,” Kenyon said. “So we aren’t donating as much as we thought we would. But I don’t think any of that’s going to waste. That’s good at least.”

She said people can get involved by joining the Creston Community Garden Facebook group. Kenyon said the garden has been a success, but there is one large section of weeds that needs some work.

“We really need somebody to till it. There’s a lot. We’re very good at growing weeds,” she said. Total weed prevention was one of few things SWCC students didn’t provide.

England said SWCC Carpentry and Building Trade students built and donated three raised gardening beds. Akin Building Center donated all of the lumber for the project. England, who is also the admissions coordinator at SWCC, said agriculture lab students designed a rain barrel they donated to the garden.

Kenyon said Pastor Jodi Rushing has been very helpful. “Jodi with the Methodist Church has also been really instrumental in getting the garden started and letting us use this land,” she said.

“Then ASP, the Appalachian Service Project built and donated that shed to us last year,” Kenyon said. “So it’s really been a community effort.”