Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

August 17, 2013

Community garden showing fruits of labor

By Brent Brown Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG — Oris Reece spent much of Thursday morning tending to green beans, tomatoes and other home-grown fruits and veggies, meticulously examining his flowering wares as they move ever closer to what appears to be a bountiful harvest.

The Agape Center President, with assistance from the Greensburg Rotary Club’s Jeff Emsweller and Bryan Robbins, planted the proverbial seeds for the garden this spring with the hope that the harvested fruits and vegetables could be used to help those in need throughout the community. The designated site, near the corner of Scoby and Broadway, is now very much alive with tomatoes ripe for picking, cantaloupes ready to highlight any fruit salad, and cabbage that might very well be the envy of grocers everywhere.

All the toil involved in making the garden a success is as plain to see as the numerous fresh cucumber buds that dot the landscape of what was once a house demolished by Habitat for Humanity. Not wanting fertile ground to go to waste, Reece, Emsweller and Robbins met with Marty Miller, a local soil specialist, earlier this year, and began germinating an idea that was anything but “garden variety.”

Reece earlier compared the idea to the old adage wherein “teaching a man to fish” is far more helpful than giving him one. In this case, the “fish” come in the form of more fruits and vegetables than are found at a typical produce stand.

The “man” can be anyone willing to commit the time necessary to tend a garden space and reaping, quite literally, what he or she has sown.

Reece told the Daily News a few community members have taken up the offer of free plots at the garden. Still in its early stages, this year’s harvest – no matter the outcome – is likely to be one of many in the future.

Jeff Emsweller previously told The Daily News the project would require “a long-term commitment,” and it’s clear those involved are in it for the long haul.

Not all of the vegetables tended to by Reece this week belong to him, though several do.

On the advice of Marty Miller, Reece began using a ground stabilizer composed of black strap molasses, fish oil and a secret ingredient or two, the positive effects of which are obvious.

Plants doused from time-to-time with the stabilizer are full and appear much closer to being edible than some of their nearby counterparts that were not covered in the slightly smelly substance.

This is just one of several things Oris Reece told The Daily News he’s learned about gardening in recent months. But no matter how much new knowledge Reece and others involved in the project learn each day, the end result remains the same.

“Everything goes to someone,” Reece said Thursday, noting the primary beneficiaries will be Human Services, Inc. (HSI) and the Bread of Life.

The Agape Center president has also helped others by giving away some of the garden’s vegetables to a few local individuals in need.

And that’s always been the point.

The garden’s organizers are awaiting word on a possible forthcoming donation from Rotary International, but in the meantime everything appears to be coming up roses for those involved in the unique community endeavor.

“It (the garden) did fine,” Reece said of the ongoing project. “It’s another good example of people coming together to help others in need.”

Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056