The year 2017 was another glorious time in the dirt at The Bellevue Hospital Community Garden, TBHCG. (Some say soil, but, as Huron County Master Gardener Bob Beck is fond of saying "Gee, I don’t get soily. I get dirty!") The community garden is more than 100 x 100 feet and located on the grounds of The Bellevue Hospital. The garden includes 18 (5’ x 10’) raised beds with traditional row crops in the low lands. The harvested produce is cleaned, bagged, and delivered to two area food pantries - Fish and Loaves in Bellevue and The Side Door in Clyde.
The hospital Nutritionist spear-headed and continues to coordinate the project. Each year she introduces a new food to the approximately 20 herbs and vegetables grown. In 2017, okra was introduced. Master Gardeners accompanied and helped as the Nutritionist prepared recipes and served garden grown vegetables at the local libraries and community markets.
Gifted Bellevue Senior High School students take a day from their school studies to work in the garden. This spring the students helped prepare the garden for the plants, planted seeds in the raised beds, pulled weeds, and spread mulch around the rhubarb and asparagus. The Master Gardeners guide and instruct the eager youth and The Bellevue Hospital serves a healthy lunch.
In early May, Huron County Master Gardeners armed with a Power Point presentation and table full of hands-on examples, teach 3rd-grade students from two or three area school districts about the life-cycle of plants. In mid-May, the same students plant seeds in homemade pots and carefully tend them for 10 days in the classroom. Master Gardeners transplant the seedlings into TBHCG. The plants are watered, weeded, and harvested with the help of hospital employees and community volunteers.
After the garden is put to bed and the elementary students have graduated to 4th grade, the Master Gardeners return to the schools in winter to show the students the results of their involvement in TBHCG. This break from their normal schedule allows the students to view photos of themselves having fun learning and planting. The presentations celebrate the student’s community involvement in feeding the hungry.
TBHCG donated 937 pounds of herbs and vegetables to area food pantries thanks to the contributions of area elementary and high school students, The Bellevue Hospital staff, community volunteers, and Huron County Master Gardener.
Submitted by: Joan Taylor