The application to rent out Bloomington community garden plots opened Feb. 17. The Bloomington Parks & Recreation Department has provided garden plots since 1984, with a new one at Switchyard Park added this year.
The other two city garden plots are at the Willie Streeter Community Gardens, located in Winslow Woods Park and Butler Park Community Garden in Reverend D. Butler Park. Sarah Mullin, program specialist for Bloomington’s Parks and Recreation Department, said there are many benefits to growing in a community setting.
“The objective of our community gardens is to provide a space where individuals, families and organizations can grow food and ornamental plants, with minimal financial or material investment, and experience all of the benefits gardening has to offer,” Mullin said.
The three gardens are divided into 10-by- 10 plots. A person can rent up to four plots for the year. The garden plots allow people who don’t have the space or ideal conditions at home to still be able to grow their own food and decorative plants.
“I enjoy growing my own vegetables, and this is the only way I can do that,” said Kimberley Cook, a gardener at Willie Streeter Community Gardens. “And it is nice to garden with people who also like to garden and share ideas.”
Gardening increases the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, increases physical activity and can also provide a place that promotes mental health and relaxation, Mullin said.
Judy Berkshire, another gardener at Willie Streeter Community Gardens, said gardening helps her brain and her body.
“After a winter of lower activity, my muscles need waking up, and gardening certainly does that,” Berkshire said. “Now for my brain, if I am worrying over something or someone, I can lose myself in working the soil, watching the plants or simply taking in the activity of other creatures, especially birds and butterflies.”
The plots are provided with the initial preparation of the garden area, water sources, maintained paths, composting facilities, fencing, tools, the advice of the garden staff and other resources for gardeners. Wheelchair-accessible raised garden beds are also available, and all the garden plots at Switchyard Park are raised beds.
Garden plots are now available and must be rented in person between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Bloomington Parks and Recreation office in City Hall, 401 N. Morton St. Suite 250. Registration will remain open until all garden plots are rented.
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