VALPARAISO | With the recent flurry of snow showers, gardening might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but Valparaiso is gearing up for another community gardens season.
Dan McGuire, the parks' recreation superintendent, said the soil is all tilled for the 42 garden plots at Foundation Meadows Park next to the parks office on Campbell Street. The department began accepting reservations for the plots Monday at $25 apiece, and half were taken by Tuesday, McGuire said.
"We've done some extra tilling of the earth to make it easier to plant in the spring," he said. "We have a temporary water source with a hose to the site, but we are looking at a dedicated water line for better pressure and flow to the gardens."
This is the fourth year for the community garden program, and it has expanded each year. This year, the parks have added two raised gardens for use by those with disabilities. The two 4-by 8-foot beds were moved from the Ranger Camp community garden program at Rogers Lakewood Park.
The parks in conjunction with the Fit City program will have their own garden plot with all the produce going to the food pantry at Opportunity Enterprises. McGuire said other gardeners will be urged to donate any extra produce to the pantry, and a box will be set out to collect it for transport to OE.
To make it easier for the handicapped to reach the gardens, Lakeshore Lanscaping will install a walk from the parking lot to the garden area so people don't have to walk or push a wheelchair through the grass or mud.
The Ranger Camp at Rogers Lakewood will be setting up a new community garden for the youngsters to work in. McGuire said the details still are being worked out but it probably will be an in-ground setup like most Foundation Meadows gardens.
"It's been a great activity for folks to come out," McGuire said of the community gardens program. "Last year a mother with a couple of kids did it together and it was a great bonding time. It's for the community, but the gardeners formed their own community.
"They enjoyed helping others till or they provided tips on growing stuff. That's one of the things people really liked: getting to know their fellow gardeners."
And, no matter what the snow might say, spring is less than two weeks away.