Ash Street Garden – A True Community

Hari Poudel at the Ash Street Community Garden

One of the ways that the Community Garden Coalition gets funding for our efforts (besides your generous donations) is through a small grant from the City of Columbia. To receive this grant, we must apply every two years and go through the same rigorous process as agencies with paid employees. Part of the review process includes taking Health Department commissioners on a tour of one of our gardens. This year, Garden Leader Hari Poudel and other gardeners hosted this tour at the Ash Street Garden, and I went along.

That tour was a revelation for me! I wish that everyone could have been along to see how important this garden is to so many people. I always knew that we helped people grow tasty and healthful produce for themselves, family and friends, but I didn’t realize how many people originally from other countries used our gardens to grow their native produce and medicinal plants. According to Hari, there are thirty different families gardening at Ash Street, many of whom came from Nepal, Bangladesh, Taiwan, South Korea and China.

I recently asked Hari if he would mind answering the following questions so more folks could get a glimpse of the Ash Street gardening community.

Q: What inspired you to become the garden leader at Ash Street?

Hari: First, I am very glad to serve as a garden leader in the Ash St garden. The key motivational factor is my intention of serving local communities where I live. Second, when I am at the garden, I feel it is my second home. It is also a place to meet people from different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. More importantly, a community garden can serve as a social network place which helps in enhancing social ties and building a greater feeling of community. Lastly, I am able to learn different vegetable farming practices from people from different countries. It’s a great learning opportunity.

Q: Please describe the gardeners at Ash St. and how you think the garden helps them and their families.

Hari: The garden has a broad impact at the community level. About 30 households, including 67 family members, are actively involved in Ash St garden. Gardeners have grown a wide variety of vegetables. More than 50% have been gardening for more than four years. We always have new applicants on our waiting list. The planting season starts right after our garden kick-off day in April and it will go until late October or early November. During my four year experience as a garden leader, I would say more than 90% of the gardeners depend on fresh vegetables for about 5-6 months on the garden. Thus, I would say that our garden has significantly contributed to help in providing fresh vegetables to our gardeners. I am also one of the beneficiaries.

Thanks to Hari and all the gardeners at Ash St., the Health Department commissioners were very pleased with their garden tour, and the City has once again awarded the CGC with a social services grant to continue our support for gardens like these.

CoMoGives logo

This December, you can also show that you support community gardening by making a donation to the CGC through the CoMoGives local giving project. Your dollars go directly to pay for water, tools, mulch and more at gardens like Ash Street. Find our CoMoGives page here, and don’t forget to donate by December 31!

Spotlight on Claudell Garden: A History of Local Giving

The community garden on Claudell Lane has been part of the CGC network since 2000, but it was used as a neighborhood garden for decades before that. I recently found out a lot about the history of this garden by unearthing some photos and a newspaper article from the Columbia Daily Tribune.

According to the article neighbors had been informally using the vacant lots to garden since the 1950s and the Garden Coalition had been renting the properties for the token rent of $500 a year from owner Goldie Sims. When Sims put the lots up for sale in 1999 and the CGC raised more than $22,00 to purchase them.

“Most of the people who live on that block and need the garden are extremely low-income,” said Karen Graul, coalition treasurer. “So we raised the money ourselves.” The coalition received a $13,000 grant from the HeinkelCharitable Trust, a $5,000 grant from the Boone Electric Community Trust and $8,000 from the Boone County Community Trust. The group also raised about $1,000 from downtown business owners, including Eldon Benus, former owner of Cafe Time, which is now Das Kaffeehaus Cafe and Deli; Richard King of The Blue Note; Susan McQuilkin of Ninth Street Deli; John Pham of Bangkok Gardens; and Annette Weaver of Columbia Books.

Mrs. Sims also helped the project by taking the lots off the market while CGC raised money. And she apparently traveled from her home in Oklahoma to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the garden which was officially named after her late husband Claude.

These photos taken in 2000 or the following season, show a lush garden and a very diverse group of gardeners. Which is very similar to what you’ll see next spring if you happen down Claudell Lane.

Though this is still the only garden the CGC actually owns, at last count we offered support to over 30 different garden projects throughout Columbia. And, this December, we’re focused on fundraising again as we get ready for another year of water, tools, seeds, compost, mulch and more. In keeping with our long tradition of local fundraising, we’re working with CoMo Gives to raise money through December 31. You can be a part of our mission by giving a donation or sharing our story with a friend. There are 12 more days to give! Thank you so much for your support!

You can read the full newspaper article here. (Special thanks to the Daniel Boone Regional Library for the NewsBank subscription that allowed me to find this article.)

Garden Spotlight: Circus Lyons

The Circus Lyon Community Garden got its start in 2006, when owner Mark Stevenson opened it up for the coalition to start a garden with support from neighbors. That first year, kids from a City of Columbia youth camp helped plant some donated tomatoes and marigolds. The kids got to get their hands in the dirt and learn about how to place young plants in the ground and water them.

Check out these photos from that first year!

The garden has continued to thrive since then, with gardeners even going on a float trip together in 2017. Like all of our neighborhood gardens, plots are open to anyone in the community who applies. Gardeners plant and harvest from their individual plots, and are expected to contribute to the general upkeep of the garden, like mowing and mulching.

Here’s a crew of Circus Lyon gardeners this spring after a work day to mulch a common area.

Circus Lyon gardeners pose after a spring work daySupport this community garden and others like it by donating to the Community Garden Coalition this December during CoMo Gives. Donate now through December 31!

Spotlight on D.H. Crum Community Garden

photo of D.H. Crum garden
DH Crum Community Garden partners with the City of Columbia and the Community Garden Coalition to provide gardening space and resources for all community members.

Support this garden and others with a donation through CoMo Gives this month.

We began the garden at Firehouse #5 in the Fall of 2014 with 6 individual plots. Garden participation continues to grow each year, and we now have 12 individual plots with a variety of community plot options where gardeners share the labor and harvest. We are also adding several fruit trees and bushes. The garden provides an opportunity for area residents to grow fresh food and an environment to develop community.

— Garden leaders Kristen Hatton and Julie Walker

people planting at D.H. Crum garden

Fun fact about the D.H. Crum garden: They have a persimmon tree, which drops loads of delicious native fruit most years in late fall. Lucky ducks!

Spotlight on Unite 4 Health Community Garden

The Unite 4 Health Community Garden was established in 2011.  It has undergone many transformations over the years, and today features 40 garden plots, five of which are fully accessible, and each tended by a different family.  Our members are a diverse group and offer an environment rich in culture, age and experience.  In addition to the individual plots, we have community strawberry, raspberry, elderberry, and herb beds, fruit trees, and a rain garden.  A rain barrel system is also on site.  Plans for next year include the addition of native edible plants.

Support this garden and others with a donation through CoMo Gives this month.

plots at Unite 4 Health gardenstrawberry bed at Unite 4 Health garden garden plots at Unite 4 Health garden garden plots in spring at Unite 4 Health garden Unite 4 Health garden plot

Spotlight on Bethel Church Community Garden

We recently harvested 349 pounds of sweet potatoes from the Bethel Community Garden along with some late season green beans, tomatoes, beets, squash, and some surprise watermelons we found hiding in the weeds.
Great gardening year!  Thanks for your support.

Linda Coats,
Bethel Church Community Garden

a huge late-season harvest of sweet potatoes and a few melonsThis garden, run by and for the Bethel Church community, has been a member of our coalition since 2011. Some produce is donated to St. Francis House and similar charities and some is shared by gardeners.

Support this garden and others with a donation through CoMo Gives this month.

Spotlight on Friendship Garden Club

One of our newest member gardens is the Friendship Garden Club, which started their project this past winter and became a member at the same time. The garden is hosted by the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, but is open to anyone regardless of religious affiliation. Part of their vision for the garden is to build health and fellowship in their community. And they want the garden to provide healthy food options for the community in a low-income neighborhood.

At mid-season this year, they had this progress report:

We have 9 out of 12 plots occupied so far & we are recruiting for late season plants/gardeners. This experience has been a blast!! Calvin Miles & I co-chair FRIENDSHIP GARDENS & are, thoroughly, enjoying our ‘labor of LOVE’ & are grateful most of everything we planted is flourishing. GOD is so Good!

Dee Campbell Carter
Friendship Garden Club


a gardener prepares a new raised bed at Friendship Gardenvolunteers at the Friendship Garden site

Help this garden flourish next year, with a donation through CoMoGives during the month of December!

Spotlight on Ash St. Garden

Now that the weather’s turned and most of our gardens are dormant, it’s a good moment to look back on this season. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting some of our member gardens, starting today with Ash St. Garden.

One of the largest community gardens in Columbia, Ash St. Garden provided plots for more than 25 families this year and those plots helped feed about 85 family members. Garden leader Hari Poudel offered these pictures of the garden plots growing all kinds of vegetables in mid-June.

Ash St. garden in June 2017 Ash St. garden in June 2017 Ash St. garden in June 2017 Ash St. garden in June 2017 Ash St. garden in June 2017 Ash St. garden in June 2017 Ash St. garden in June 2017