NEW CONCORD — "We can begin by doing small things at the local level, like planting community gardens or looking out for our neighbors. That is how change takes place in living systems, not from above but from within, from many local actions occurring simultaneously," said Grace Lee Boggs regarding community gardens.

That philosophy is what is driving organizer Heather Coen as she continues to build on to the Community Garden in New Concord.

For her, it started as an idea she saw from the Urban Greens, a Muskingum County Soil and Water Conservation District program. Coen wanted to bring that love of gardening and growing fresh produce to the New Concord community and those residents who don’t have room for their own garden.

"I basically took that idea," she said. "I love to garden and I always thought a community garden, where residents could take part would be a great idea."

In March 2017, her love of gardening became a reality as a vacant lot, owned by Muskingum University and located at the corner of Cherry Lane and Layton Drive, became the new home of the community garden. And it has continued to grow ever since.

There are now 15 large raised beds for planting, as well as large tractor tires used for flower beds. Those who have the 15 "rented" flower beds sign an agreement that they will continue to care for their plants and will not use any pesticides on the plants, but rather natural materials. 

In the spring, most of the plants and seeds were donated from area nurseries and garden centers so most families didn’t have to purchase plants. 

Coen said planting goes in a cycle and that the fall will bring a whole new harvest. She said some gardeners won’t renew their spot and others can volunteer to grow a fall garden with things like cabbage, kale and other fall crops. Last fall, she said, they planted garlic and it was ready for harvest in June. 

Any over abundance of food from the garden is given to the New Concord Food Pantry for others in the community to use.

The fence, tools and garden shed have all been purchased through donations to the community garden project. Coen said she has been blessed with the community’s support and those donations go right back into the community garden project. 

If you would like to help with the community garden or would like to reserve a spot, call Coen at 740-607-6922.