Laurel Community Garden plants for philanthropy -- Gazette.Net


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Laurel garden enthusiasts are being encouraged to learn about composting and help grow plots for donation.

Composting, a method of mixing different ingredients to create a type of enriching soil for planting, is a process the community garden has begun to utilize, said Suzanna Pieslak, a plot coordinator for the City of Laurel Community Garden, or CLCG. The compost is housed in bins created by Eric Comitz, a local Eagle Scout.

The garden, a little less than half an acre, is filled with about 58 plots —two sections for child gardening, a plot dedicated to the Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services, or LARS, and a “Healing Harvest Plot,” said CLCG president Dawn Williams.

The “Healing Harvest Plot” contains multicolored wooden ribbons, a spectacle visitors can see when entering the garden, Williams said. The plot is dedicated to cancer survivors and signifies the garden’s collaboration with “Team Barracuda,” the First United Methodist Church in Laurel’s group dedicated to fighting against cancer.

Pieslak said the 20-by-20-foot plot dedicated to LARS, an advocacy group that assists homeless and low-income individuals, produced about 350 pounds of produce for donation when the garden first began. This year, Pieslak has a goal of growing 500 pounds by November at the latest.

CLCG began the compost process in November 2013.

“I think it’s definitely a skill that a lot of people are curious about, but they kind of want to see it done somewhere else first,” said Pieslak at a June 14 open house event. “We’ve been pleased by how it’s going and if more people are interested in it, we would be happy to hold a community event.”

The mixture consists of “greens” such as grass trimmings and “browns” such as shredded leaves that can generate temperatures of more than 120 degrees allowing food scraps like egg shells, banana peels and coffee grounds to enrich the compost and offer more plant nutrients, said CLCG compost manager Tony Kaminski.

“Basically, it’s the ultimate in recycling,” Kaminski said. “What they call [the compost] is ‘black gold’ because it’s that valuable for gardening.”

During June’s “Community Health Improvement Week,” Laurel Regional Hospital recognized the CLCG for its efforts and contributions, Williams said.

“We’re not only giving folks a space to grow their stuff but we’re training the community and reinforcing healthy eating habits,” Williams said.

CLCG welcomes those who wish to help give back to the community through gardening, Pieslak said.

“There is a need in the community and if everyone does their little part, the world could be a better place,” she said. “Down the road, if we have enough volunteers maybe we could get another [LARS] plot. There’s definitely room to grow.”

ismith@gazette.net