At the garden, there are 50, 22 x 32, plots with walkways placed in between them. There are also four water hydrants in place for gardeners' convenience. The water is provided through the city, but the Thayer Rotary pays the bill. Plots are rented out for $25 but, if a plot is not taken care of, it is taken over by the Rotary and given to someone else. Mulch and starter seeds are also given to gardeners to begin their gardens. The Rotary pays for Thayer FFA and agriculture classes to start plants in their greenhouse, and they too are given to gardeners. The Rotary also provides lettuce, radish, squash, watermelon, cucumber, and potato seeds in April.
Cicigoi says the garden "gives people a little something to do" and he is amazed by what some of the gardeners can do. The produce grown is used however they choose- sell, keep, or give it away. Cicigoi says "The Rotary really hopes this is a project that goes on." This is the same wish shared by many of the gardeners.
Edna York of Thayer is one community gardener off to a great start with 62 pints of beets already produced and squash, cabbage, and potatoes growing. She said, "I have never had that many beets. It has been a perfect growing season." York and her husband, Joey, are well respected by their fellow community gardeners.
Bill Hedden of Koshkonong says he is getting a late start on his gardening, but that the Community Garden "is a great program that we have enjoyed and benefitted from." As he looks around the garden, Hedden says, "It's looking better this year than it has in the past. It has been hot and dry, but as long as you keep after it, it will do well." He has planted corn, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, and beans this year.
Boyd Clark of Thayer says the garden has improved every year. "This year there are more people who really know what they are doing; thats the key" says Clark. He has three gardens at home, and mainly uses his plot in the Community Garden for corn and potatoes. He gives the Thayer Rotary Club credit for keeping the garden in excellent shape. "I have a tiller, but no need for it. They had done it all, and they have free water for us." Clark feels that other communities should use the Thayer Community Garden as an example and develop their own program to benefit their community.
The garden area hasn't always been a garden spot. When the city began leasing the one acre area to the Rotary for $1 a year, it was covered with trees and weeds. Bob Cicigoi gives credit to a long list of individuals but says Larry Forscheler, Ed Stahlman, and the late Bill Garrison were large contributors in the early days. According to Cicigoi, Garrison "lived down here" to get the get the garden started. Local businesses also were a huge support to the start of the garden. Hirsch Feed offered use of a tractor and plow, Cover Lumber Supply provided concrete, Young's Produce provided the weed spray, and Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative provided posts for the fence around the garden. The Thayer FFA also assisted in building the fence by driving the metal fence posts into the ground.
Cicigoi says "We like the way its going and we hope it will continue. It is therapy for some of these people."
The gardeners are proud of what they have done so fa,r and want the community to know about the great opportunity to grow their own produce. Interested gardeners can fill out an application for a plot. Meetings regarding the Community Garden begin in February. If you are interested in renting a plot, contact Bob Cicigoi at (417) 264-2862.