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Community garden opens for harvest

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WORK: Karrie Schemansky, a direct support professional with Pathfinders, works alongside Pathfinders’ Hope Nelson at Helping Hands Community garden.
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HELP:Becky Arnett, community garden coordinator, helps Pathfinder clients weed around the planted onions.
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PICK: Pathfinder client Logan Mealer, a member of the Possibilities group, weeds around theonions.

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@h-ponline.com

The Helping Hands Community Garden, located on Viking Lane in Huntington, has opened to the community for harvest.

The garden is open for individuals to volunteer and work in the garden on Tuesdays and Thursdays as needed, or individuals can go and harvest produce on Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m. or Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m.

Becky Arnett, program assistant with Purdue Extension and this year’s garden coordinator, said even though the garden got a late start this year, they plan to harvest through October. This year they even planted pumpkins, so she hopes for a pumpkin harvest later on as well.

Arnett said anyone is able to come and harvest during harvest hours as there are no income requirements. The produce is free, and individuals are not required to volunteer to work on the work days.

Gretchen Blackburn, a program assistant with Purdue Extension who works on the community garden with Arnett, said the garden also provides the community with an opportunity to get more involved.

“I think this is a very good opportunity to get people not only involved in the community, but it’s providing a really good resource,” Blackburn said. “It’s educating them and providing a good opportunity to get outside and learn.”

Arnett said they only require people to sign in so they can keep record of how many people come by and then they weigh all of the produce to give her an idea of how much they’ll have to plant the following year.

The produce is all given away and is sometimes donated to Love Inc., Huntington House or somewhere else that might need it.

The garden offers the community herbs, onions, green beans, tomatoes, spinach and more.

Some plants and seed are donated from Huntington residents, or places such as Orscheln. The remaining plants and seed are purchased by Purdue Extension.

Arnett said another thing more unique to the garden is that they also allow milkweed to grow, as Purdue Extension raises caterpillars and butterflies. She said community members are also welcome to take some milkweed if they want it.

On Wednesday morning, a group from a Pathfinder day service agency, Possibilities, was present to help work in the garden during harvest hours..

This was the group’s fifth or sixth time coming by the garden to volunteer.

Karrie Schemansky, a direct support professional with Pathfinder, said the group will often go to Hiers Park to help clean or will volunteer other places such as the garden.

“I think really, it’s great, with Pathfinder one of our biggest thing is inclusion, (so) to get our clients out in the community, helping out, and just to be included in stuff and for people to see,” Schemansky said. “We’re about abilities. Hence the name ‘Possibilities.’”

Arnett said the original goal of the garden was to educate people that didn’t know how to garden or people that were unable to have a garden of their own. Additionally, it’s to help educate kids on how to grow their own vegetables and why it’s important to eat vegetables.