Riverside community garden grows more than fruits and vegetables

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WICHITA, Kansas – A community garden is a way to bring neighbors together to share the work of gardening and the variety of produce, but the North Riverside community garden in Wichita is growing more than what you can pick.

“Anyone can come in and pick a weed, basically pull a tomato out,” explains garden organizer John Ruder.

It’s the second planting season at the North Riverside community garden.

This green garden was once a neglected alley just three years ago.

“About that time I was out mowing the lawn and my wonderful neighbor Delora was walking by,” explains Ruder.

“I said ‘What are you gonna do with this property?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ I said, ‘How about a community garden?’ and so that was it!” exclaims Ruder’s neighbor Dolora Donovan.

The garden started small.

“Last year we had corn and tomatoes. We weren’t real good at it. This year we’re better,” laughs Donovan.

Ruder explains, “We have an herb garden on the left side, we have basil parsley, mint, marigolds to keep the bugs away, on the right we have about 70 tomato plants cucumbers, potatoes, onions, you name it we probably have it here.”

This garden grows more than fruits and vegetables.

“Putting all this together we’ve met neighbors that I haven’t known since we’ve lived here for years so it’s been neat to get to know everyone in the neighborhood, in the Riverside area too,” says Ruder.

It’s growing friendships.

“It’s been really nice to get acquainted with more people. There are so many people I don’t know,” says Donovan.

Pull a weed, pick a pepper, make a friend.

“If we could get more families involved, especially the little kids. Watching them come in and see stuff grow, picking the tomatoes, it’s really neat to see the smiles on their face,” smiles Ruder.

“It’s just being outside. I love being outside and to meet the people and have people come together,” says Donovan.

Anyone is welcome to use and work in the North Riverside community garden, which is located on the 1500 block of Woodland.

The neighborhood is looking for donated gardening tools as well as a rain barrel.

If you’d like to help, you can find contact information here.

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