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U.N.I.T.Y. Garden getting ready

ANOTHER SEASON — Getting the U.N.I.T.Y. Garden on Dock Street, Steubenville, ready for another growing season for those in need got a boost earlier this month when representatives of the Ohio National Guard stepped in to assist. Two of the helpers stand in front of the area. -- Contributed

STEUBENVILLE — U.N.I.T.Y Garden on Dock Street got a jump-start to the planting season when representatives of the Ohio National Guard lent a helping hand with cleanup and preparation and offered an appreciated idea to boot.

Members of the National Guard have been helping Urban Mission Ministries with food distribution since April and will continue that presence until the end of May, assisting with the mission’s workload that has more than doubled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

But on May 7, guardsman also found time to assist Justice Slappy, garden project director, with clearing space and preparing the area for a hopefully productive growing season, making its bounty available to anyone in need and hoping the gesture inspires those who use it to also help maintain it.

“They helped clear up much needed space so that we can grow more food for our community,” explained Slappy. They also offered a suggestion, a more cost-effective way to grow food, using cinder blocks for beds vs. raised ones. That led to Slappy bringing in 70 cinder blocks to do so.

“We’re trying to grow as much food as we can, and they came in and gave us some ideas on how to better use the space,” he said. The clearing work included cutting tree limbs to allow more sunlight for optimum growing conditions.

“We live in a food desert, and we want to plant as much food as we can,” Slappy said, noting many people depend on the garden for fresh fruit and vegetables.

“We have probably about 200 plants already planted, and we are getting ready for tomatoes and peppers and warm-weather crops,” he said.

“This is our 13th year (for the garden), and it gets better every year, but we want to focus more food in that area in anticipation of increased need,” he said.

“It was a huge boost of help because for them to come over and do so much work enabled us to do other stuff,” Slappy said.

The garden serves a “food desert,” a part of the city without a grocery store, and can feed people. The vegetables and fruit are free, but those who take it are asked to put some work, a little weeding or watering, into the garden.

The mission of U.N.I.T.Y Garden is to “create authentic experiences with nature that educate, inform and inspire healthiness in mind, body and soul.”

For information call (740) 424-2269; e-mail to teamunity740@gmail.com; or write U.N.I.T.Y. garden at P.O. Box 371, Steubenville OH 43952.

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