Search for Excellence

Adams Eden Community Garden was first cultivated as a garden on April 20, 2010.
Master Gardener Patty McDermitt at the Search for Excellence Award Banquet

Master Gardener Patty McDermitt at the Search for Excellence Award Banquet

With a committee of seven Master Gardeners to plan, promote and initiate the garden and 17 interested community gardeners, the planting began.

According to Webster’s dictionary, a garden is defined as: Land for the cultivation of flowers, vegetables or fruit. A community is: A group having the same common interest; fellowship. These two definitions describe our community garden. We are a group of people wanting to cultivate the land to grow crops while getting to know others during the gardening season.

One of our Master Gardeners had stopped by the garden early in the first season.  Here are her thoughts, very eloquently stated: “This morning I stopped by the Community Garden plots again- the soil looked great, the naming marker flags were blowin' in the wind, and the piles of chips waiting to be spread. As I walked over, I saw a fellow digging little paths in his plot near the cornfield. I was also greeted by a man sitting in a chair near a walker fingering a handful of dirt. I introduced myself and then I recognized the man- he was a dear friend for years. And there was his son, truly enjoying the morning's garden work and the Master Gardeners’ efforts to provide garden plots for the community. He was so happy to have his father looking on and in turn, cherishing that dirt. This is only one of the little awesome moments that occur in a garden.”

The beginning of this community garden started with an idea. This was followed by requests from the community which then pushed this idea into action. With encouragement and lots of energy, the Master Gardeners moved quickly; we requested the use of this land from the county commissioners, we spread the word about the garden by not only writing a newspaper article, but by telling friends, neighbors about the garden; and then tilling, picking up rocks, tilling, and picking up more rocks.

As a result, the community replied. Seventeen garden plots were cultivated and plants grown that first year. Not only has this garden provided food for the members’ families, but it has provided knowledge of gardening and backyard food production that can be passed from generation to generation. It has provided leadership among the members as help and advice is shared by Master Gardener volunteers and members of the garden. Daily stress has gone away by the sheer joy of the gardening experience. Peace is found in the garden, and friendships have been developed. This is what a community garden is all about.

This garden has not only provided a site for the local community to garden, but groups like the LIU Autistic class from the Gettysburg High School have learned, and continue to learn skills as a result of their gardening in one of the plots. They have been known to walk the trail to garden during the day with their garden gloves in hand. Other groups like a local Girl Scout troop have used the garden to achieve their gold award. Not only did they learn lots about vegetables, but they were able to help provide fresh produce to the local soup kitchen. Excess vegetables grown in all the garden plots are donated to the local soup kitchen. Master Gardener Roy Thomas sees to that. He gathers the produce and hauls it away whenever necessary.

This garden is here because of the support of many people. Our county commissioners at the star of the garden in 2010, George Weikert, Lisa Marino, and Glenn Snyder, gave us the opportunity to use this land for our garden. This stretch of land is owned by the county and without the support and cooperation from our county commissioners, this project would not be possible. Our District Extension Director, Nina Redding, has provided leadership and guidance to the Master Gardeners as this garden continues to develop. The Penn State Master Gardeners are the folks have made it all happen; it’s become a garden that brings folks together to learn from each other. The garden members recognize the value of growing their own vegetables, herbs and flowers. This garden has become a wonderful and successful project with hopes of more success in the future.

The current county commissioners, Randy Phiel, Jim Martin and Marty Qually, continue the support of this wonderful project. Because of their support, we will be placing a storage shed in the garden. This shed will be constructed by Gettysburg High School students this fall. The structure will have a green roof, allowing us the opportunity to demonstrate water infiltration from roof run-off. With support of the Adams County Conservation District, educational material will be available for the structure and demonstrations of conventional roofing vs. green roof will be located at this site so any homeowner can replicate the project. Not only has the Conservation District been key in the development of the green roof structure, but they have worked diligently to be sure the gardeners have rain water available to them by collecting it from their building and moving it to the garden.

As a result of all this hard work, the Adams Eden Community Garden has been recognized by Penn State Extension. The Penn State Master Gardeners have received the Search for Excellence Award for the work they have done in developing and implementing the Adams Eden Community Garden. The criterion for the award includes community impact as well as educational opportunities. As you can see, the garden easily deserves such an award.

We are very proud of this community garden and are hopeful the future will teach many more people about gardening and allow us the opportunity to share our love of gardening.

Mary Ann Ryan is a Penn State Extension Master Gardener from Adams County. Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County is located at 670 Old Harrisburg Road; Suite 204, Gettysburg. Call 334-6271.