The current pandemic hasn’t slowed down area gardeners from growing fresh vegetables to keep their homes filled with healthy foods during the coming months.

A pair of community gardens are carrying out things as close to normal as planting season has already begun.

At Rowan Creek Community Garden in Poynette, located just beyond the veteran’s memorial, coordinator Curtis Niglis said that plots are sold out. Niglis, who is also president of the Poynette Area Gardening Association, said that it is the first time in “many years” that all plots have been filled.

“All gardeners from last year have signed on and a couple of new members have joined,” he said.

In Lodi, the community garden has moved to the Reach Out Lodi property. The lot it sat on in 2018 was sold and there was no garden last year. Bill Welch, who coordinates the garden said that the original eight plots (20-by-20 foot) filled quickly and six more lots were created. A handful of lots are still available and cost $20, or $10 for half the space.

“The move to Reach Out Lodi has been very positive,” Welch said. “All but one of the gardeners are new to the community garden and became aware of it through Reach Out Lodi’s social media and word of mouth.”

To reserve a plot this season, call Reach Out Lodi at 592-4592.

Both locations are also taking proper precautions given the current COVID-19 situation, but neither side is worried too much about the social distancing aspect.

“We ask that they maintain social distancing ... not too hard when you are in your own 20-by-20 foot plot,” Welch said. “There are rarely more than a couple of gardeners there at any one time, even on weekends, as folks come when they can.”

Niglis added of Poynette’s garden, “The gardens are spread out — past the 6-foot recommendations — so that the community gardeners there do not have to interact. Plus it is a very open area, generally with good air flow right now.”

Welch has still put signs out in Lodi, found via the Dane County Garden Network about other precautions. Outside of social distancing, the signs ask people to stay away from the garden if they or anyone in their household is sick, to bring their own tools if possible, to avoid shared items if possible, and to clean items with soap or disinfectant before and after use if items need to be shared.

Welch added that some community gardens, and individual home gardens are growing in popularity because “people are becoming more and more concerned about where their food comes from and how it is grown,” adding that people are also starting to be more self-sufficient.

“Our current health crisis has underlined those ideas,” Welch said. “For some, (gardening) is a return to what they used to do and for some it is a new experience. We offer mentoring to new gardeners by myself and other veteran gardeners so that they have a positive first experience. That’s not really too difficult to do because a gardener can do everything ‘wrong’ and still wind up with more food than they can eat. Added to that is the benefit of being outside and working with the earth. It’s a win-win.”

The feeling is the same in Poynette.

“If one is an avid gardener, which all the gardeners at the community garden are, we work on sustainability and providing area families with healthy home-grown vegetables,” Niglis said.

He added that if any gardner ever comes away with more vegetables than they were planning for, they are encouraged to donate them to the village’s food pantry.

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