AURORA — The city’s community garden has offered a respite from the isolation of COVID-19 this spring and summer in an open, outdoor venue with a degree of social distancing engineered in.
According to Aurora Parks and Recreation Director Laura Holman, the plots at the garden at the Harmon Park on Page Road are about 85% to 90% leased this summer, and longtime gardeners agree it’s been popular this year.
"It’s the perfect solution for people who are going stir crazy in their houses," said Lauren Puhala, one of several gardeners on a committee that acts as a liaison between the garden and the Aurora Parks and Recreation Department. "You can get out there, and people are all on their individual plots; they can't help but socially distance, yet you’re among people who you can wave to and talk with."
Holman said the city asks that gardeners follow the COVID-19 rules recommended by the state of Ohio, including mask wearing and social distancing but said "it really is up to the individual gardener."
Bob Levy, another gardener, said the city provides water and humus to the garden, as needed. He said the garden includes 105 or 110 plots measuring 10 feet by 20 feet. Each of those can be leased from the city of Aurora for $10 a season.
"Some people have one; some people have two; some people have six," he said. "We grow many kinds of vegetables."
He said the heat is proving a challenge for some, adding it’s been a tricky year overall.
"It’s been tough," he said. "We had a lot of rain in the spring."
But gardeners find ways each year to overcome whatever weather-related curve balls Mother Nature throws their way.
"This is now our 11th year," he said. "We started it 11 years ago, and it’s been going well ever since. I’ve been involved since day one."
This year, Levy said he’s growing tomatoes, lettuce, peas, garlic, opinions, zucchini and cucumber.
Most of the beds are at ground level, but Levy said there are several raised beds that Boy Scout Kyle Boan built in 2018.
"He did a nice job," said Levy, adding it was Boan’s Eagle Scout project.
Puhala said she grows variety of things: asparagus, sunflowers, zucchini, snow peas, rhubarb, blueberries, spinach, beans, tomatoes, strawberries, zinnias, lavender, cosmos, lettuce, tomatillos, Brussels sprouts, kale, garlic, basil, turnips and carrots.
She said she enjoys the diversity of gardeners, which include people with Italian, Vietnamese and Indian heritage.
"I love the diversity here," she said. "There are some people who keep to themselves, and then there are others you can get to know."
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, firstname.lastname@example.org or @bobgaetjens_rc.