Story and photos by KRISTINA CASAGRAND
A late start didn’t deter Columbia Housing Authority residents and volunteers from garden talk on Friday morning at the J.W. “Blind” Boone Center.
“I love growing things, and I love teaching it to my kids,” one resident said.
She lamented leaving a garden she planted in Omaha. Housing authority Resident Services Coordinator Claire Slama offered good news.
“You can put as big of a garden as you want in your yard, wherever you want it,” she said.
Plants, compost, potting soil and tool distribution started at the Boone Center at 10:30 a.m. About 10 residents arrived in the first hour to receive their share. Some helped sort material while they waited.
Volunteers from the PedNet Coalition and the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture also helped with the morning’s activities. Adam Saunders, board president of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, advised people to mix organic matter with the soil.
“Do that in the fall, and it’s growing for you, first warm day of the spring,” he said, raising his thumb high to mimic a sprouting plant.
Based on residents’ suggestions from last year’s event, the housing authority added vegetables to the planting day lineup. Lowe’s and the CCUA donated eggplants, cabbage, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, herbs and a variety of flowers. Residents could initially choose two flowers and two vegetables to plant, with the option to take whatever was left over at 3 p.m.
Supplies were also available from the Unity Drive laundry facility parking lot, the Allen Street parking lot, and on Park Avenue at the Moore Walkway.
April Steffensmeier, resident services coordinator for the housing authority, said the turnout was lower than expected: About 10 to 15 people came to her table all afternoon. Everyone seemed excited by the free plants.
“They really liked the tomatoes and flowers,” Steffensmeier said. “The herbs are a little harder to get rid of.”