Oxford Community Garden needs volunteers

Published 4:57 pm Monday, August 31, 2015

Nestled less than a mile off the Square, Oxford Community Garden is a small cluster of garden plots that serve the surrounding community in more ways than one, and organizers are calling for more people to get involved this fall.

The Oxford Community Garden is serving its members, but Tiffany Bensen, president of the Oxford Community Garden, said more volunteers are needed to help with the communal plots.

Communal plots are managed and harvested by volunteers. These plots are grown especially to service people in the area as needed. The produce gathered from these plots, as well as any excess donated by other gardeners, goes to The Pantry. The Pantry is a service that provides food for needy families in the Oxford-Lafayette community and is located on Molly Barr Road.

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“There’s tons of stuff to do in the garden,” she said.

A volunteer committee has been managing the plots to keep them healthy and producing well, but now is the time to outsource help to get more people involved and aware of what the garden has to offer.

“We are planning to have volunteer work days the first Saturday of every month,” Bensen said.

Bensen said this upcoming Saturday might be problematic getting volunteers because it is now football season. She said it might or might not matter because it could provide an alternative Saturday activity for those who want to take a break from the Grove. If football or inclement weather prevents volunteers from showing up, the Sunday afterwards will be substituted.

Garden history

Founded in 2009 by local resident Susie Adams, the garden has grown over the years to around 50 plots ranging from 4-by-8, 10-by-16 and 16-by-16. Adams was inspired by other community gardens she had seen before, so she started her own.

Formally, their mission is to, “enhance the well-being and beauty of the community by assisting people in growing fresh produce, providing locally grown food to people in need, increasing social interaction in the community and creating an educational garden in an attractive setting.”

To participate, an annual fee of $10 is charged for membership, which goes directly back to the garden. All members and officers of the organization serve in volunteer-based positions.

“It really is open to the community,” said Bensen, who is only one of a small committee who manages and volunteers in the garden.

Bensen and her husband, Jason Hoeksema, have been involved with the project since the beginning, but Bensen has been managing since 2012.

Bensen said she has seen all types of gardening needs filled by the local plots. Some people garden in the plots because they live in an apartment or dorm and some people have a yard that does not have enough space or the right type of lighting for what they want to grow. They find what works for them when they come to the community garden.

All members can use the plots, as rented, whether they are retirees, students, small or large families. Plots are available in different sizes to suit individual needs.

Bensen said she hopes more people will become aware of the gardens and be interested in volunteering.

“The more volunteers the better … you do not have to be a gardener,” said Bensen.

For more information, sign up for Oxford Community Garden’s newsletter and like their Facebook page for updates and upcoming events.