Seed Packing in a Pandemic

A young boy smiles at a table full of bulk seeds, labels and seed envelopes.
Packing seeds is fun!

Normally each year in early spring, the Community Garden Coalition organizes a seed-packing party to package up bulk seeds which we then distribute to gardeners largely at our Spring Thaw public event. With the COVID pandemic still in play this spring, neither of those events were safe for us to hold. We DID get seeds distributed to our gardeners, however, thanks to all of our board members and several volunteers! Here’s a run-down of all that went in to making that happen.

First, Bill McKelvey drove down to our supplier, Morgan County Seeds in Barnett, for a socially-distanced seed purchase. Next, he made up packages of seed-packing supplies for our volunteers with the help of Jenny McDonald. Our helpful volunteers picked them up, packed the seeds, and then returned them to Cheryl Jensen, our newest board member. In the meantime, Sarah Kendrick put together an online seed ordering form that allowed participating garden leaders to request seeds for their gardeners. Those results went to Cheryl who did her best to meet everyone’s requests. When the seeds were organized for each garden, she then made arrangements for a seed pickup at her home. Whew!!!

We want to thank all our wonderful seed-packing volunteers in no particular order: Linda Coats, John Coats, Ann Marie Gortmaker, Lily Chan, Barb Onofrio, John Markovitz, Joe Horner, Mila Horner, Don Day, Sarah Kendrick, Abram Kendrick, Mira Stoddart, Cynthia Hoover, Anne Jacobson, Penny Sprochi, Marty Katz and Cheryl Jensen. In addition, we thank our garden leaders who’ve had to be more hands-on in picking up seed and plant orders for their gardeners! THANKS TO ALL!

Additionally, yours truly got us a grant from our local Sam’s Club that is helping us cover the cost of our seeds and related expenses for this and next year. Thank you very much, Sam’s Club!

How’s that for successful teamwork? In my mind this just confirms what I already knew — the Community Garden Coalition is part of the magic that makes Columbia such a great place to live!

Wow! Thank You, CoMoGives Supporters!

four Ash St. gardeners standing distanced from each other wave too the photographer from the pathway between to fenced plots full of midsummer vegetable plants. A box with CGC and CoMoGives logos says "Thank You"

We received over $5,000 $5,500 in donations this year from more than 70 80 donors through CoMoGives in December!!!

That means A LOT to our small, all-volunteer organization! We are so appreciative of your support and your enthusiasm for community gardening!

These donations will go directly into our budget for assisting community gardens with water, tools, supplies, plants, mulch, fences, mowers and other garden improvements. And HALF of our total is pledged to projects at the Friendship Community Garden! Stay tuned in 2021 to watch them grow!

Interfaith Garden Planters

3 Interfaith gardeners standing at the garden with some of their harvestThis fall, my husband Matt and I took a tour of the Interfaith Garden with Lily Chan, the garden leader. This garden is located behind the Beth Shalom synagogue at 500 W. Green Meadows Road and is a collaboration between Beth Shalom and the Newman Center. Volunteers grow a wide variety of organic produce such as greens, beans, tomatoes, okra, sweet potatoes, herbs and even persimmons for the Central Missouri Food Pantry.

When Lily showed us some planters that the Boy Scouts had built for them, I couldn’t help noticing that they looked almost identical to the ones that my husband, Matt had been building this year for us and our neighbors. When Lily mentioned that they wished they had more of these planters, I filed it away for later to ask Matt if he was willing to build some more for them. (My happy relationship tip is never volunteer your spouse/significant other without asking first!) Matt was willing! He put together an estimate for two more planters, and the Community Garden Coalition approved it and paid for the supplies. A couple of weeks later, we delivered them to the garden.

Interfaith Garden board members and Matt Knowlton pose at the garden with raised planters

Interfaith Garden board members and Matt Knowlton (center) pose at the garden with the raised planters

Here’s what Lily had to say:

Thank you so much for the beautifully made planters you donated to the Interfaith Garden. It was a work of art. Brent, Mike, Susan, I, and all our volunteers are very grateful to you both for your generosity and kindness towards us and for contributing to the Interfaith Garden’s mission of feeding the poor in our community. And the timing is so perfect, too. We can start putting plant remains in there and top them with leaves and compost so they will be ready to be planted by spring.

This is just one of the many ways that the Community Garden Coalition is helping to support our community. Please consider making a donation to support gardens like the Interfaith Garden this December.

You can donate via CoMoGives through December 31!

 

Halfway to Our CoMoGives Goal!

It’s just over halfway through December, and we’ve raised more than half of our $5,000 goal through the CoMoGives local giving program!! Thank you for all you’ve given and for sharing our message with your friends!

Speaking of halves, we’re pledging half of what we raise to the Friendship Community Garden. Find out more about this diverse, resilient garden that is trying to improve the health of their neighbors and friends with this short video from the City of Columbia.

You can support Friendship Gardens, and all the member community gardens through Dec. 31 when you donate to the Community Garden Coalition through CoMoGives.

Tiller Donation! Wow!

We want to thank Vance and Becky Clearwater who kindly donated their Troy-Bilt Horse rototiller to the Community Garden Coalition last week! We got it on the 27th and put it to use on the 28th! Here it is tilling some beds at the Ann Street Garden. 

Matt using the donated tiller at the Ann St. Garden

If you’re thinking of donating garden tools or equipment, see our “Give Stuff” page.

And don’t forget: During the month of December, we’re working with #CoMoGives to raise money for the 2021 gardening season and the Friendship Community Garden. You can help us reach our $5,000 goal — every little bit helps! Donate today at CoMoGives.

Do Your Part to Help Community Gardening Thrive


One of the best parts of being on the board of the Community Garden Coalition is the opportunity to visit all of our gardens. Although it’s been less frequent this year due to the virus, I’ve still been invited to socially-distanced garden parties, harvesting events, and just to talk with gardeners and see how things are going.

When I’m struggling to fill out all the forms for our city grant (which only provides about half of our funding), I find it’s wise to take a break and look at some of the garden pictures we’ve taken during the year. It reminds me how important this organization is to so many people, and why I want to continue doing my part to help!

You can do your part to help others December 1-31, with a donation to the Community Garden Coalition through CoMoGives.

New this year, we are pledging half of what we raise through CoMoGives to Friendship Community Garden!

This newer garden located on Smiley Lane at the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, has been growing in membership despite a lack of good soil, a storage shed and a water spigot. We are hoping that you will help us to help them!

Friendship Garden leaders and members have done a lot of creative problem solving in their few years of existence. From coming up with a water hauling and storage system last year to pivoting during the pandemic to offer a garden education program to kids displaced from their regular summer camp. Their efforts are inspiring and the CGC wants to help them continue to improve their garden.

CoMoGives logo

Even a small donation can go a long way in our budget! Your dollars stay local, and they’ll go directly back into supporting community gardens used by your neighbors and friends with hoses, wheelbarrows, lawnmowers, seeds, compost and more.

You and your friends can also stay in touch with CGC and check on our progress by following us on Facebook. Thank you for your support and consideration, and happy holiday season from myself and the rest of the CGC Board of Directors!

Kathy Doisy, President

CGC Board Members
Jenny McDonald, Vice President
Bill McKelvey, Treasurer
Ann Marie Gortmaker
Kristin Hatton
Cheryl Jensen
Sarah Kendrick



Thankful for Community Gardening in 2020

In this turbulent year, we know many folks found extra worth in cultivating a garden.

We’re so glad that we could find ways to help our member gardens thrive this year. And, we’d like to the thank all our hardworking garden leaders and volunteers as well as the land owners who allow these gardens to grow. THANK YOU! We are so appreciative of what you do and how you help your community!

Collage of community gardening photos from 2020, "Thank you gardeners, volunteers & donors! Donate to #CoMoGives in December!"

To wrap up our year, the Community Garden Coalition is participating in the community-wide CoMoGives fundraising campaign, December 1-31.

New this year, whatever amount we raise, we are pledging half to the Friendship Community Garden! We want to bolster this newer garden by helping them fund some bigger-ticket needs like a shed and topsoil. We’re so pleased to partner with this group and greatly appreciate their involvement with the CGC! 

You can donate to the CGC and help support Friendship Garden and all the member gardens starting on Giving Tuesday, December 1 via CoMoGives.com.

And CoMoGives makes it so easy to give to all your favorite nonprofits! So many groups are doing important work in our community and need extra support this year. Please help spread the word about CoMoGives to your friends and family!

Season’s End 2020

As November winds down, most garden plots are finished producing for the season. Before you shift away from thinking about gardening for the winter, though, please do the following.

  • If you’re at a community or group garden, let your garden leader know whether you’re planning to return next year. This will help leaders know what plots will be available for newcomers next year.
  • Clean up your plot. If you need tips on how to put your garden to bed for the winter, consult your garden leader.
  • Consider making a year-end donation to the CGC to help with maintaining your community garden next year. We’re a very small, all-volunteer non-profit, and even modest contributions help us fund water, mulch, tools and more to support community gardening in Columbia.
    Donate here today, or wait for December 1 when the CGC will be participating in the CoMo Gives local giving campaign.
  • Consider donating some of your time. Individual gardens need good leaders and team members and the board of the CGC could use new members, too. Contact your garden leader or our board members to get involved.

Best Practices for Virus Safety at Community Gardens

Tending your community garden plot can be a stress-relieving activity and an important way to supplement your grocery shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic. The health department has assured us that gardeners can continue to use their community garden plots. However, even as the City and County reopen, it is still important to be aware of the potential to spread the virus even if you don’t know you are ill. The following guidelines should still be followed at your garden.


Below are our recommendations for gardening at this time:

  1. Do not come to the garden if you are not feeling well or someone you live with does not feel well.
  2. Do not enter the garden if there are already 10 people there; come back later.
  3. Keep your distance (6 feet or more) from other gardeners. The CDC says this virus can be spread by people without any symptoms. If you need to be within 6 feet of another gardener, wear a mask.
  4. Clean off tool and hose handles before and after use because the virus has been found to survive up to 3 days on hard surfaces. We recommend you bring a towel or rag and use a solution of 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water to wipe down any tools that you use after removing any dirt.
  5. Please wash your hands with soap and water before and after gardening. If soap is not provided then consider bringing some with you.
  6. Use your own hand tools if you have them.
  7. Wear gloves if possible. Although they can spread the virus, they may help you remember not to touch your face.

Community Garden Coalition

We hope you’re able to enjoy spring weather and make use of your gardening opportunity this year, despite the unusual circumstances. Stay safe, respect your fellow gardeners and happy gardening!

Community Gardening While Staying at Home

COVID-19 Update & Gardening Recommendations

Residents of the City of Columbia and Boone County are currently under a “stay at home” order until April 24. Please help mitigate the effects of the new virus by staying at home except for essential activities. (For more details on the order and coronavirus resources, see here.)

We want our gardeners to know that your community gardening activities are considered to be essential because they are for the purpose of food production. City staff have assured us that gardeners can continue to use their community garden plots. However, there are new rules in place.

Here’s what Stephanie Lilly, health educator for the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services has told us:

“Community gardens provide food, therefore are considered essential. There shall be no more than 10 people working in the garden at a time and shall practice social distancing at all times!”

There is a possible $1,000 fine for violating this rule, which means that gardens should not have any group work days until the shelter in place order ends.


Below are our recommendations for gardening at this time:

  1. Do not come to the garden if you are not feeling well or someone you live with does not feel well.
  2. Do not enter the garden if there are already 10 people there; come back later. According to the Boone County order there is a possible fine of $1,000 if you violate this rule and it is reported.
  3. Keep your distance (6 feet or more) from other gardeners. The CDC says this virus can be spread by persons before they have any symptoms.
  4. Clean off tool and hose handles before and after use because the virus has been found to survive up to 3 days on hard surfaces. We recommend you bring a towel or rag and use a solution of 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water to wipe down any tools that you use after removing any dirt.
  5. Please wash your hands with soap and water before and after gardening. If soap is not provided then consider bringing some with you.
  6. Use your own hand tools if you have them.
  7. Wear gloves if possible. Although they can spread the virus, they may help you remember not to touch your face.

The Community Garden Coalition is still figuring out how to safely facilitate a distribution of cool season transplants, row cover, hoops and additional seeds to member gardens. Stay tuned to news from your garden leader in the coming days!

Community Garden Coalition

We hope you’re able to enjoy spring weather and make use of your gardening opportunity this year, despite the unusual circumstances. Stay safe, respect your fellow gardeners and happy gardening!