OTTUMWA — In just one month, community gardens have begun to sprout north of Ottumwa.
So far, the gardens near the Ottumwa Industrial Park feature 12 raised beds, compost and a compost tumbler, a pallet bench, three oversized tires that will contain flowers and land for potatoes, corn, pumpkin and squash.
“We were slightly concerned that we got started too late, but with the volunteers we’ve been getting out here, it’s really taken off,” said Ali Wilson, United Way of Wapello County Volunteer Center coordinator. “We hope this is a starting point, but we’ll have more gardens throughout the community at a later date.”
The land had already been a garden with raised beds a few years ago, said United Way Community Impact Associate Marie Zoromski, first started by Chuck Bates, master gardeners and community volunteers.
Two of the 12 raised beds are kids’ gardens, where families can stop by to teach their children how to garden and pull weeds.
Eight of the 10 other beds have been taken over by USDA and NRCS, SIEDA, Willard Street United Methodist Church, Target, two by United Way and two by John Deere Ottumwa Works. The two remaining beds still sit empty, though Wilson said three organizations are considering adopting them.
So far the United Way’s raised beds have strawberries, carrots, beans and peppers, and work is beginning on weeding and planting in the other beds.
Volunteers have also constructed a bright blue pallet bench and plan on a couple more in case gardeners need a place to sit or a place for the kids to hang out while they’re working on the beds.
The idea behind the three oversized tires filled with flowers is to become pollinators, Wilson said.
“Eventually we’ll have bees out here,” she said. “We have the hive, we just need the bees.”