Community garden ground breaking planned

Fresh vegetables can be grown at the new community gardens in Clinton. The Clinton Franciscans will bless the gardens this Sunday, April 22.

Clinton — A new community garden in Clinton is open for registration and will be blessed by the Clinton Franciscans. A groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on Earth Day, April 22, at 2 p.m. at the garden site, near Ericksen Center at the southeast corner of 13th Avenue N and N. 14th Street.
Sister Joan Theiss, OSF, will bless the garden. Margo Hansen, director of Bickelhaupt Arboretum in Clinton, will give a talk, and information booths and activities for children will be available at the free event.
“This is such an exciting time,” says community garden volunteer Connie Beck.  “We’re looking forward to the positive effect this is going to have on sustainability and health in our area.”
Plots in the community garden can be rented by individuals, families, church groups, scouts and other groups to grow produce for personal consumption or as donations to local charitable organizations.
Gardeners may register for plots at the City of Clinton Recreation De­partment administration building in the Ericksen Center.
Cost to rent a 10-foot by 10-foot plot is $25 for the growing season from April to November 2012.
The community garden project originated in the fall of 2011 at a meeting of Sustainable Clinton, a local environmental group started by the Sisters of St. Francis. Laura Anderson facilitates the Sustainable Clinton group.
“Franciscans are passionate about caring for the earth and all living things,” says Anderson.  “Starting the community garden was a logical way to encourage both sustainability and self-sufficiency for people.” She noted that the project wouldn’t have happened without the commitment of dedicated volunteers.
Earlier this spring, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the City of Clinton Recreation department joined in the effort.
Kelli Jahn, youth and families educator for ISU Extension, said related informational programs and classes are being planned. “The Master Gardeners are a great resource for this venture,” she said. “There is a lot of excitement about opportunities to share their expertise.”
Her organization will help teach proper techniques, pest management and strategies for organic gardening success.  Work­shops also under consideration include composting, soil nutrients and proper seed management.  A children’s gardening program is in the works.
“This is good for the community on many levels,” says City of Clinton Recreation Director Gregg Obren. “Our mission is to produce a wide variety of valuable programs enhancing the quality of life for our residents.  This is going to get people outside, encourage a healthy lifestyle and they’re going to have fun with it, too.”
The Grounds and Facilities Division of the Clinton Public Works Department is allowing use of a large watering tank that will be placed on the property.  The tank will be regularly filled with water for use by registered gardeners.
Tools for planting and soil manipulation will be available to gardeners through a tool-lending “library” at the Ericksen Center. Registered community gardeners will be allowed to borrow tools to use in their garden plots. Donations to the tool-lending library are being accepted at the Ericksen Center Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Plans for a seed-lending library and efforts to accommodate residents with disabilities are underway.  Financial assistance is available to individuals and families through the Sisters of St. Francis.  For information on low-income qualifications, call the Sisters at (563) 242-7611.
For more information on the community gardens, contact the City of Clinton Rec­reation department at (563) 243-1260 or visit

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