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Science and the Environment

Farmers Park Community Garden in Early Stages of Cultivation

The Community Gardens at Farmers Park is now in its second year. Katherine Dugas, garden coordinator, says the 13 plots comprising the garden are still in the experimental phase, as they learn how to have successful yields.

“Right now we’re all kind of just messing around with what we want to plant and figuring out what’s going to come at us,” Dugas says.

Part of the ‘messing around’ is learning from all the gardeners, Dugas says.

“As community gardeners we have a running dialogue with each other,” Dugas says. “We’re emailing constantly, texting, calling with questions, issues, ideas. It’s really awesome because we have a lot of input to share based on our beginnings and where we work and what we’re doing.”

Dugas is also the kitchen manager for the Aviary Café and Creperie at Farmers Park, which occupies two of the garden’s plots. She has herbs like basil, oregano and parsley in the garden that get used back at her restaurant—part of the growing trend of farm-to-table restaurants.

Dugas says she’s also planting things to help other gardeners.

“I’ve got a bunch of borage plants, which I planted because the flowers and the leaves are edible,” Dugas says. “But the other reason I planted those is because they’re super bee friendly, and always having bees in our garden is beneficial to everyone.”

With the high heat, Dugas says they’ve been avoiding watering in the middle of the day. This prevents the water from being evaporated and not reaching the soil and plants. But Dugas says a lot of their plants are also pretty heat tolerant.

In addition, this summer’s heavy rains have washed away most of the calcium in the soil. To combat this, Dugas says she will start saving the eggshells from her restaurant to crush up and put in the soil around the plants.

The other plots have crops like sunflowers, tomatoes, peppers and squash. None are sold at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks, but Dugas says that may happen in the future.

Dugas also says she would like for there to be composting at the gardens, but for now she says the ‘waste’ can at least be taken to the Yardwaste Recycling Center to be made into mulch or compost.

If you can't make it to Farmers Park, Springfield Community Gardens have six locations around town to become involved with, and Missouri State students can become a part of the Campus Garden to learn more about sustainability and agriculture.

“Even if you’re not working on vegetable gardens there’s a lot of gardens around town and parks and things that people can get involved in if you’re interested in that kind of stuff,” Dugas says.

Jessica Pearson, of Green Circle Projects, said in an email to KSMU the Farmers Park Community Gardens can be joined by anyone.