By Alex Cash (Photo Courtesy of Dahlem)
In the middle of a cold, harsh winter, images of spring can seem far into the distance. But, soon enough birds will be singing, trees will be green, and the fruits of the Earth will be growing again.
Gardening can calm the nerves, quiet the mind, and provide a sense of accomplishment when growing something that is useful. However, gardening takes space, resources, and knowledge. If those aren’t available out your backdoor, consider the community gardens at the Dahlem Conservancy.
For a $40 yearly membership fee gardeners can rent a 20 x 20 plot of land located on the site of the historic Wickwire Farm, 1427 Wickwire Road, on Dahlem’s property. Resources such as healthy soil, a deer and rabbit fence, water, hoses, hand tools and more are available as part of the rental fee. What’s more, is the knowledge and know-how brought by fellow gardeners in this communal space.
Ben Dandrow, Executive Director of the Dahlem Conservancy, thinks this is an excellent community resource. “It gives people an opportunity to socialize. You see the gardeners get together and share secrets and different ideas on gardening techniques.”
Kelly Brown, Dahlem volunteer and community gardener agrees.
“You have gardening neighbors and you get to know the people that garden next to you. I’ve met a lot of people in the community there. It’s a lot of people who are excited about the same thing.”
This spring, Brown will renew her membership for the third year at what she describes as one of the best places in Jackson.
“I get the satisfaction of feeding my family organic food. There’s nothing better than planting your own potatoes, digging them up, and making them into mashed potatoes.”
A blending of different age groups and backgrounds happens in the community gardens. Dandrow and Brown both note different groups making use of them. A plot is reserved for Dahlem’s Little Acorns Nature Preschool and participants of their summer camp programs have learning experiences there. The Jackson County Health Department has used them in youth development programming.
Dandrow said now is the perfect time to begin thinking about summer gardening. Currently, of the 48 plots on the site, six are available for rent in the 2018 season. An open house is scheduled for Sunday, March 11th from 1-3 p.m. at Dahlem to begin community building and planning for the upcoming season. Staff and volunteers will be available to answer questions for prospective renters.
“Dahlem is truly a gem in Jackson, but for many it is still an undiscovered gem. This gives an opportunity to get people out here and be exposed to Dahlem. I think it’s another nice thing to have as part of our mission,” said Dandrow.
That mission is to provide environmental education and outdoor experience.
“What better way to provide an outdoor experience than to have 48 plots available for people to plant crops and to learn things about soil management and raising vegetables.” To become a community gardener at Dahlem call them at 517-782-3453 to reserve a plot.