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Be a gardener
Dig a ditch,
toil and sweat,
and turn the earth upside down
and seek the deepness
and water the plants in time.
Continue this labor
and make sweet floods to run
and noble and abundant fruits
to spring.
Take this food and drink
and carry it to God
as your true worship.

Julian of Norwich, Christian Mystic (1342 – ca. 1416)

The Sand Creek Community Gardens is a commons for the community, a gathering place for learning and mentoring, and where food can be produced and shared with others. The mission is to provide peaceful and inviting gardening spaces for the Bethel College community and beyond, with an intergenerational mix of students, families, and other individuals working side by side. As we work to promote horticultural education we also foster wellness, create a sustainable environment for the production of food and enrich the connection between the many friends and neighbors of Bethel College.
 
The gardens include 30 plots, each measuring 20 by 20 feet, which are available to both individuals and families. In addition, common areas are tended by the community of gardeners: perennial and annual flower beds, asparagus, herbs, rose beds, fruit trees and berries, a picnic area around a shed containing equipment for use by the gardeners, as well as  mulch and compost.
 
The official governing body is an Advisory Council with representatives from the three leadership areas:

  • Gardener Management
  • Common Area Management
  • Infrastructure (including a representative from Bethel College Facilities)

Goals

  • Nurture healthy bodies with locally grown, nutritious food; help reduce family food budgets.
  • Encourage exercise and therapeutic labor.
  • Foster community through intergenerational interaction; participate in common work days develop shared herb, perennial vegetable and native prairie flower garden; and create areas for social interaction.
  • Educate persons in good gardening practices that reflect care for God’s creation (water conservation, mulching, appropriate weed control and pest management, composting, building healthy soil).
  • Contribute to the green initiative of the North Newton community, emphasizing the importance of a pleasant physical environment.

Fees

  • Gardeners can typically expect a water fee between $25 and $35 per year, depending on water costs from the previous year. Water costs (metered by the City of N. Newton) are divided equally among the plots and vary annually. Additional fees may be charged at the end of the gardening year if water use exceeds estimates. Actual water fees will be listed on the garden application.
  • The annual rental fee for each plot is $10. Requests for additional plots will be considered, but priority will be given to new gardeners.

Location

The Sand Creek Community Gardens are located in the Northeast area of the Bethel College campus, just to the north of Memorial Grove and the trailhead of the Sand Creek Trail. To access the gardens, turn right (East) on 29th Street off of Highway 15. Go past the tennis courts and follow the gravel road around the east side of the tennis courts.

Guidelines for Gardeners

  • Smoking and use of alcohol are prohibited.
  • Small children are to be supervised by an adult.
  • No pets or vehicles are permitted beyond the parking area. Exceptions can be made for handicap accessibility.
  • All plots must be completely cleared of debris, cages, trellises or other garden structures no later than Thanksgiving Day to facilitate tilling of the entire area.  Exceptions may be made for no-till plots, cold frames or perennials, by request.
  • No garden structures or equipment may be stored at the gardens through the winter months. Exceptions may be made for students who do not live in the area and plan to garden the following year.
  • All plants shall be confined within the borders of the garden plot. Gardeners are expected to control the weeds and grass along the edges of the gardens so that the public paths can easily be mowed to maintain a neat appearance.
  • Reasonable control of weeds is expected. Gardeners are expected to maintain their plots throughout the gardening year, including after a garden is no longer being used for vegetables or flowers. Gardeners must make arrangements for maintenance of their garden when they must be away for an extended time.
  • Gardeners who do not maintain weed and border control will be notified and given one week to remedy the problem. In the event that the issue is not addressed, problematic plots may be weeded by volunteers or managers to prevent the spread of weeds and maintain neat appearance.
  • All vegetation (including weeds, vines, and other vegetable plant refuse) cleared from the gardens shall be placed in a designated area within the compost area. Refuse should not be placed on the pile where composting is in process. A pile of finished compost is available for gardeners. Please observe the signs.
  • Gardeners are expected to read carefully and follow the practices of organic gardening as outlined in Guidelines on Pesticides, Herbicides, and Fertilizers (reviewed by the Advisory Council, Feb. 2019).
  • Gardeners are expected to attend occasional meetings convened for discussion and information on best garden practices (water use, mulching, weed control, pests, building soil quality).
  • In addition to tending their own plots, gardeners must participate in monthly work days, contributing a total of four hours toward general garden maintenance and improvement: weeding, mulching, removing dead vegetation, mowing and other tasks. If gardeners can’t attend work days, tasks can be completed independently.
  • All gardeners are also required to complete one week of irrigating and weeding of the common areas, scheduled at the opening gardener meeting.

Contacts

To ask questions or request an application, email Kendra Burkey, Garden Manager at communitygarden@bethelks.edu.

 

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.