Partnerships "grow" FYI garden

There’s a reason why the old saying “There is strength in unity” is an old saying. It stands the test of time because it’s true. The recent installation of a water collection bench at Family and Youth Initiative’s community garden site in New Carlisle is proof of that.

Through its Gardening For Health program, FYI collaborated with the Clark County Combined Health District, the Clark County Solid Waste District and The Plastic Lumber Store in Springfield to build a water collection bench on our community garden site, donated annually for FYI’s use by neighboring Scarff’s Nursery. And a FYI volunteer donated the large plastic barrel that holds the water.

Add in about four hours of hard work by five FYI community garden volunteers and you have a completed project that benefits residents. The bench collects rainwater and stores it until it is needed to water the garden. It also serves as a place where volunteers and/or visitors can sit, rest and enjoy the beauty and peacefulness that the garden creates.

“We’re all close anyway, so it was a way to further bond,” said FYI Head Gardener Jim Tipton of the project. “This bonding is the strength of the entire program. And this is one of the greatest strengths of FYI through the years, that bonding and camaraderie.”

Tipton is already seeing the benefits of the water collection bench.

“There have already been people who have been able to benefit by sitting and enjoying the garden in the evenings,” he said. “It’s like an immediate benefit that has been added to the community garden program that we never had before.

“This allows our volunteers to have water closer to the garden,” Tipton continued. “Rainwater is the best for the plants. It comes directly from God; it is very pure. It was hard work, but it is worth it. It should last forever.”

The Creating Healthy Communities program at the health district provided a $600 grant to help fund the project. “When I saw it and talked with (FYI), the idea just clicked,” Said Ashley Shearer, Creating Healthy Communities program director, who worked with FYI from the beginning to make the project a reality. “I thought this would be a good solution for the water problem source problem. I like the way it looks,” she added. “I think it’s a great asset to the garden.”

Another $500 came via a grant through solid waste district, because the project used recycled materials.

“Through our plan and our Close the Loop Program, which is to use recycled materials in projects like this, we have a certain allotment of funds we are able to use to help organizations with each year,” said Bonnie Martens, Clark County Solid Waste District Program Manager. “It fits into the plan: recycled materials, community garden, water collection. And it wasn’t just one organization, but many working together.”

David Cook, owner of The Plastic Lumber Store, 2400 N. Limestone St. in Springfield, designed the bench and created the instructions to build it. The materials used in the project were recycled plastics purchased from Cook’s store. A similar bench he had done earlier is located at South Yellow Springs Street across from Fulton Elementary, inside a community garden sponsored by non-profit Springfield Ohio Urban Plant-folk (SOUP).

“This is what coalition work is all about: getting people mobilized and getting done what needs to be done,” said Shearer. “My grant alone wasn’t enough to get it done, the solid waste district funding by itself wasn’t enough, and I couldn’t have designed something like this on my own. It is great that we could get together and do something that benefits the community.”

FYI is thankful to all those who were a part of this successful project.

“I’m a firm believer in collaboration, because I think it helps us meet the needs for all we serve and gives them the best services we can give,” said FYI Co-Director Pat Banaszak. “When we see a hole in one of our services, we look for someone to help us fill that void. We’d rather collaborate than do it all by ourselves.”

Don't's not too late to be a part of the garden. For any interest, call 937-845-0403.

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New Carlisle, OH 45344

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