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Mitchell's community garden: growing by popular demand

Interest in gardening is growing in Mitchell. Mitchell's Golf and Cemetery Department expanded the local community garden by another 20 plots this year by popular demand. Kevin Thurman, director of the golf and cemetery department which oversees ...

The Mitchell community garden plots are pictured on Thursday in Mitchell. (Sarah Barclay/Republic)
The Mitchell community garden plots are pictured on Thursday in Mitchell. (Sarah Barclay/Republic)

Interest in gardening is growing in Mitchell.

Mitchell's Golf and Cemetery Department expanded the local community garden by another 20 plots this year by popular demand.

Kevin Thurman, director of the golf and cemetery department which oversees and manages the garden, said it has increased from 100 to 140 10-foot by 20-foot plots in the last two growing seasons.

"Demand is growing, word of mouth is getting around and people are generally happy with what's going on," Thurman said.

From squash and pumpkins to beets and radishes, gardeners grow all sorts of crops throughout the garden located north of the Servicemen's Memorial Cemetery off of West 23rd Avenue.

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The 1.5- to 2-acre space has attracted attention from a variety of Mitchell residents since its inception, but Thurman speculated the growing demand is attributable to the increasing number of apartment renters without backyards in Mitchell along with homeowners who do not want to dig up their pristine lawn to install a garden. Another reason for growing demand could be the affordable $35-per-plot rates charged by the city.

"It's supplying a community need at a reasonable price," Thurman said.

As of Wednesday, Thurman said about two-thirds of the plots have been filled and they're going fast. Features of the garden attracting people to use the community service include a large fence to keep out animals, security cameras helping to limit vandalism and access to water stations provided to plot renters.

As the community garden increases in popularity, Thurman said gardeners are often seen tending to their crops from sun up to sun down. The space also provides those gardening enthusiasts with a place to converse with others with similar interests, while others use the opportunity to trade the fruits of their labor at the garden.

While the 10-foot by 20-foot plots have garnered significant interest, Thurman said some have shown interest in larger 20-foot by 50-foot plots. There isn't enough room in the existing 1.5- to 2-acre space, but Thurman said there may be room to expand.

The city has an additional 26 acres set aside west of the existing cemetery that could be used for additional garden space with a provision it is not needed for cemetery expansion. If additional space is added in the future, Thurman said it doesn't take a lot of time to create room for new plots.

"As long as we've got a tiller attachment on the tractor, it doesn't take much to add a few more spaces," Thurman said.

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