GAYVILLE — There are high hopes that it will be a productive growing season at the Gayville Community Garden.
"We want to give some, we want to sell some and we want to use some," said volunteer Larry Buffington.
The garden came about three years ago through a $500 mini-grant the Gayville-Volin School received as part of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and is located between the school's parking lot and the Gayville Memorial.
It's a convenient location, Buffington said.
"It's by our (school) shop, so it had access to water and a place to sort tools," he said. "It's also a piece of ground that was really undeveloped. The school wasn't doing anything with it."
The site is also the location of the original Gayville-Volin School, signs of which pop up occasionally.
"As we go, we harvest the crops, but we're also picking up bricks from the school," Buffington said. "Some of those old bricks are still down there, and they're coming up out of the ground. When you do some tilling you can bring up an old school brick. …
"The first time we did this, we got almost a pickup load of bricks out of here," he said.
The garden is not made up of individual plots, but of a single planting area anyone from the community is invited to help maintain. Some of the crops are planted in early to mid-April, and some at the conclusion of the school year.
"We kind of shoot for April, on or near Earth Day," Buffington said. "The kids are available for that, and that's an awareness day for them. Then on the last day of school, as part of our field day, we plant the later crops."
They are harvested "whenever they're ready," he added.
"We're really starting to get a lot of community involvement now," Buffington said. "Anybody is free, when it comes time to harvest, to come pick things out of there. We just ask that if you come to harvest some stuff, we hope that you pull a few weeds, too."
There have been few problems with the honor system in the past, he said.
"I've really been impressed and pleased, and even a little bit surprised, that there hasn't been a lot of vandalism," he said.
Buffington thanked the volunteers who have assisted in the first round of planting, including Dale Bye and Brian Emmick, who have both tilled the ground; and Greg and Tara Pirak, who have donated corn. David Rabe has also assisted at this stage.
Over the summer, students from the Summer Enrichment Program will help in maintaining the grounds.
"They'll help weed the garden and get some education as to what plants are which and what fruits and vegetables they'll bear," Buffington said.
At the end of the growing season, the gardeners want to hold a farmer's market in the school's parking lot, hopefully on Back to School Night.
But Gayville isn't the only community with a green thumb — an additional grant has been secured that will help Volin establish a similar garden, which will be located across the street from the city park.
"The property owner had told us that we could put a garden in there, and they are ready to break ground as soon as we get over there and have somebody that can do it," said volunteer Barbara Egbert.
She said the garden will run using the same system as Gayville's.
Buffington said he hopes the Gayville Community Garden will expand in the future.
"We eventually want to build a garden tool shed, maybe something with a little greenhouse on it," he said.
Although there are only a few sprouts in the garden at present, Buffington said everyone is looking forward to when the plants are at their fullest.
"When the corn is up and the crops are in behind that memorial, it's kind of neat," he said.
Anyone interested in working in the community garden is encouraged to first inform the tellers Gayville's CorTrust Bank.