Nicole Gasper and Melissa Bartels

Nicole Gasper, left, and Melissa Bartels stand next to the start of a new community garden in David City. The project is a collaboration between the Open Arms Program at the Genesis Personal Development Center and the Nebraska Extension Office in Butler County. 

A new opportunity for Butler County gardeners has started blooming.

The Nebraska Extension Office in Butler County has joined forces with the Genesis Personal Development Center to launch a community garden. The 480-square-foot plot is located in the backyard of the Genesis House at 474 N. 12th St. in David City and will one day be used to grow produce for area residents.

Nicole Gasper, Genesis House's open arms program manager, said the plan is to build up interest for the garden with four workshops currently planned to introduce people to gardening concepts. So far, only the soil for the garden has been dug, but the plan is to work on improving the field as workshops progress.

“We’re hoping to start small, keep it manageable and get some basic interests to be able to grow it in the future,” Gasper said. “I’m excited about the opportunity and I think other people will be, too.”

The first workshop will focus on starting seedlings and will be led by Extension Educator Kelly Feehan. The class goes from 4-6 p.m. on April 16 at at the Butler County Courthouse in the Butler County Board of Supervisors' room.

The ‘Planting a Garden’ workshop will take place from 4-6 p.m. on May 14 at the Genesis House. This class will be taught by Master Gardener Marilyn Schmit.

The next scheduled event is a tour of Fox Run Farms at 124 N. Cleveland St. in Brainard from 2-4 p.m. on June 22. The last class currently on the books is a workshop on canning vegetables taught by Marilyn Zelinger from 4-6 p.m. on Sept. 10 at the Genesis House.

To register for any of these workshops, those interested are being asked to contact Gasper at 402-367-7410 or at nicole.genesisbutterflies@gmail.com. A signup sheet is also available at the Nebraska Extension Office at the Butler County Courthouse, 451 N. 5th St., David City.

Extension Office Cropping and Water systems Educator Melissa Bartels said the lack of a community garden in the area is what prompted the garden’s creation. She hopes to get local groups on board to utilize and help maintain the garden, such as the FFA, Girl Scouts and other organizations.

Executive Director Pat Lostroh said she hopes the garden will attract more visitors to the Genesis House. Because none of the center’s budget is going toward the garden, grants along with other donations of gardening supplies such as soil, seeds and tools from the community would be greatly appreciated. The center is also looking for a “green-thumbed leader” to take charge of the garden along with other volunteers to help run the operation. Lostroh said the purpose of the garden is to help build character and instill the value of gardening in people.

“As well as the vegetables, we want to see the people grow (too),” Lostroh said.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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