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Volunteers grow Heritage Park Garden

by Caryn Haller
challer@recordcourier.com

Sandi Morrison of Minden plants tomatoes in the community garden at Heritage Park on June 22.
Shannon Litz file photo |

Volunteers cheered and applauded as the first section of the Heritage Park Gardens labyrinth was complete Saturday.

As an accent to the 17-bed community garden, the labyrinth is a circular meditative walking path lined with painted rocks, leading to a larger rock in the middle.

“As you walk it’s a meditation to get to the center. A lot of big gardens have something like this, and it’s a different component to the garden,” said Carol Sandmeier, garden committee chairwoman. “The paths are wide enough for wheelchair access. We’re naming the big rock in the center ‘Tom,’ after the town manager.”



As well as constructing the labyrinth, a dozen volunteers planted vegetables, pulled weeds and cleaned up during a garden work day.

The various garden beds are adopted by individuals, and community groups like Boy Scout Troop 33, that grows vegetables for the food closet.



“They’ve already donated 12 pounds of lettuce and radishes,” Sandmeier said of the flourishing garden bed.

The garden also includes demonstration beds such as the Master Gardeners of Douglas County’s edible landscaping bed, and the square-foot gardening bed.

“The garden not only provides space, but teaches adults and children how to grow healthy food in a small space,” Sandmeier said. “We see people harvesting food and working together as a community, and that makes us feel good. We’ve turned this field of weeds into something that will benefit the community for a long time.”

Sandmeier said the garden committee applied for a $5,000 grant to add a 40-by-70-foot children’s garden in the future.

The garden would include plots for children, and offer educational classes on growing their own food.

“The more children learn to grow their own food, the healthier our community,” Sandmeier added.

Sandi Morrison began volunteering in the garden 18 months ago as a way to get out of the house. Saturday she helped plant a new bed of tomatoes and eggplant.

“I love it. I have a good time. Sometimes I just come out here and do whatever needs done,” the Minden resident said. “If you’re new here like I was it’s a great way to meet people and see what’s going on in the area.”

Morrison also paints rocks as a fundraiser for Heritage Park Garden.

She said the plant marker rocks that say potatoes, or radishes, or beans are a popular item, and make a nice addition to anyone’s garden.

She will be selling them at the Gardnerville Fourth of July celebration.

Minden resident Ron James handles the infrastructure of the garden.

“The ladies know the plants, and I help build the structure like the fencing, the walking paths, the beds. It’s interesting to see what you can grow here,” he said. “I think there’s so many benefits to being involved in nature and knowing how things grow. There’s miracles going on all around here. The biggest thing I enjoy is creating the opportunity for other people to explore their pleasure in nature.”

Barbara Bardecker planted 20 pumpkin plants for the Oct. 5 fall festival open house.

From those plants, she is expecting to grow 90 pumpkins to give away to children.

“It takes about 90-120 days to grow depending on the variety. Last year, we had 10-to-15-pound pumpkins,” she said. “It’s fun watching the kids when they come in. That’s the future, teaching little guys how to grow their own food and live off the land.”

The Heritage Park Garden Committee is always looking for volunteers, and no experience is necessary.

For more information, email Sandmeier at cjsandmeier@aol.com, or Paula Lochridge at PLochridge@mainstreetgardnerville.org, or call 782-8027.