The Ottumwa Courier


April 24, 2014

A downtown garden

OTTUMWA — Not everyone who lives in the downtown business district has the space to grow their own garden. But a local nonprofit group decided they had some extra room.

They recently moved into a new building on Main Street.

"We wanted to do something after seeing all that space we had out back, just sitting there," said Brian Dunn, the director of Sieda Community Action. "Most people downtown don't have room for a garden."

As part of its Seeds of Hope program, Sieda Community Action is offering community garden plots for Ottumwans who may want to grow their own fruits, vegetables and spices, but lack the space or experience to try.

"We have clients who come in once a week," said Dunn. "They can run around to the back and check on their plot."

The community garden is located behind Sieda's new Wapello County Resource Center at 310 W. Main St., and uses raised beds and square-foot gardening that make growing easy; no tilling, digging or weeding necessary.

This is another in a series of community garden ideas being developed in Ottumwa. Neighborhood gardens, a corporate garden and now, a downtown garden.

“We are very happy to be able to offer this opportunity to our clients and others in the Ottumwa Community,” said Tammy Hotek, Sieda’s Deputy Director. “Gardening is a wonderful way to be active, enjoy the outdoors, and stretch your family’s food dollars.”

They aren't claiming they're going to meet the complete grocery needs of participating Ottumwa families.

"It gives folks access to healthier foods at a lower cost," said Dunn.

Their downtown community garden offers beds in "4’x8’, 4’x4’, and 4’x2’ sizes." There is a charge, but those living at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines (about $36,000 for a family of four) do not have to pay. For more information and to reserve a bed, contact Sieda Community Action at 641.682.871 or visit them online at

To follow Mark Newman on Twitter, check out @CourierMark

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