RIA community garden provides healthy, free food for FMWR patrons

DVIDS – News – The RIA community garden provides free healthy food to FMWR customers

Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois – For the first time in eight years, members of the community have had the opportunity to grow a garden here.

The community park, located next to the Mississippi River, was open to all eligible sponsors of the RIA Family, Morale, Wellbeing and Recreation Program.

The previous site was removed in 2014 due to the new residential development on the island. Trent Mundy, president of entertainment business, FMWR, said FMWR plans to retain the current location for years to come. “FMWR hopes that we can continue to grow the program year after year. We have room in our current location to grow significantly.”

Spring emails were sent out from FMWR announcing the community park’s return and opening to military families as well as the National Guard, reservists, and retired military and civilian personnel from the Department of Defense.

Mundy said the purpose of the park is to provide a quality of life program that allows families to gather and spend quality time together.

The FMWR email stated: “If you’re looking for a place to enjoy the outdoors and warm your hands, we’ve got the place for you. Our new community gardens are located on the north side of the island off Plant Road. The new and improved design will provide you with three different garden size options, a pavilion, and a water source.” , fencing, and a driving track designated for loading and unloading.”

This caught the attention of 14 people who rented 20-by-20-foot garden plots for $30, 25 by 40 for $50, and Premium Gardens for $70. The premium gardens are large in size, Mundy said, ranging in size from 650 to 850 square feet. Prices are expected to remain the same for the upcoming 2023 season.

One of those 14 gardeners was Don Bergum, a human resources assistant here at the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center serving Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and a retired Army reservist paramedic. This was her first park.

“I always wanted to see if I could actually grow all of these different plants, but I didn’t have a place to start one of them. I finally got some extra time and took advantage of my new community garden as soon as I saw the garden spaces email,” she explained.

Bergum said she’s learned a lot about gardening from other sponsors and from Google and YouTube.

“I learned a lot from other gardeners about the importance of tilling the soil, how to reduce problems with weeds and raccoons—they love sweet corn—and the importance of supporting tomatoes and cucumbers and how to harvest your first zucchini,” she said.

“I learned on my own that some parts of gardening – pests and unexpected weather – are frustrating. It is generally a very peaceful experience and there is a lot of joy in preparing a meal and realizing that you have grown almost everything on your plate. I also learned that you never turn your back on zucchini; if the growing conditions are Well, it will double or triple in size overnight.”

Obviously, the big bonus to the garden is the free healthy food. For Bergum, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and pickled banana peppers were the main crops this year, along with a few other items.

“I learned so many good recipes for zucchini, shredded and frozen some for later use and gave plenty to random friends and strangers. Three cherry tomato plants seemed to be too few, so I took little buckets of them to my gym and to the Lock and Dam Lounge .

“I learned how to pickle banana peppers — thanks to YouTube recipes and googling — and got them into so many things; they have become a favorite in my house.”

In addition, the pumpkins you grew will be jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween.

Besides the satisfaction of the increased food intake, Bergum said the camaraderie of his fellow gardeners has also been beneficial.

“We each have our own reasons for gardening and everyone has a different level of experience. We started out as strangers and started comparing garden notes,” she explained. “We shared products and recipes, and worked together to discover the best ways to repel pests. It didn’t take long before we started seeing each other as friends and neighbors instead of seeing the person in that plot.”

Mundy said the growing season began on May 1 and will remain the same for the next year. Likewise, November 1 is the deadline for gardeners to close their gardens for the year.

“All patrons must remove any fences, stakes, etc. [They] All cultivated vegetables, herbs and lawn mowers should also be removed.”

“FMWR hopes everyone will enjoy the season and we look forward to offering this program again in 2023,” Mundy said. “If participants would like to hold their plot for next season, please contact Outdoor Recreation for additional details.”

Bergum said she will be gardening here next year and has already booked her plot.

“Next year I will use the Three Sisters method to grow corn, beans, and pumpkins. I will also close the garden instead of using rows. One section will be devoted to eternal strawberries. It has grown well this year.”

For more information, call Outdoor Recreation at (309) 782-8630 or stop at Terminal 333 anytime Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. except on federal holidays.

“Go out there and give it a try. You don’t have to know much to begin with. Just be willing to learn and warm your hands. I went into this with a pitchfork, a few potted plants, seed packets, and a desire to plant my own. I went out with friends, And a sense of peace, achievement, new skills that will forever be mine, and plenty of greens,” Bergum said.

Appointment booked: 10.19.2022
Announcement date: 10.19.2022 14:45
Story ID: 431642
Site: ILLINOIS, IL, United States

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