It all started one early Friday morning at the Gooding High School. The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) had a meeting scheduled about what their big project would be that year. Supervisor Chris Thompson had a big dream in mind. With a lot of help from Eric Moore, YAC set their sights on establishing community garden. This was a big project and after much deliberation and planning, it was going to happen.
Eric Moore says, “There is a 1.5 acre piece of land directly behind the office here that was formerly a weedy vacant lot that I obtained a three year lease on from the building owner last fall. I thought a garden was a good idea, [so I promptly] got the lease, approached the City of Gooding, and they agreed to install a $3500.00 source of clean, pressurized, free water (including drinking fountain!), the local Gooding School District Youth Advisory Council gets involved as the VERB (labor, getting the word out, etc, etc.)…community meetings are held gathering the needs of the community as well as resources within the community. Glanbia Foods agrees to fund the entire project at up to $13,000.00(!), Kings department store kicks in $500.00 and an in store “adopt- a- Plot promotion, and the community has come out of the woodwork grinning to help…”
He goes on about the garden, “So far [there are several people involved with the garden, such as:] the City of Gooding, County of Gooding, FFA (sweet corn), 4-H (kids gardening for profit program), growing veggies for the USDA Farms to School project, Helping Hands and Hearts, Food Bank, U of I Master composter program (science!), subscription veggies, summer jobs for kids (10 kids, 20 hours/week, 12 weeks, $8.00/hour), native plants, heritage plants, individual plots, growing for others, money from plant and veggie sales to food bank, jobs for food bank recipients (and a little dignity), tactile garden for local deaf and blind school students, Peace Garden, flowers, scout projects, church projects, Gooding community big pumpkin growing contest, wheel chair accessible raised beds, grade school scarecrow contest (while learning about food and where it comes from), soil horizons and pits and Leah J (more science!), connecting Seniors with students, Latino and non native speaking people ALL have access to plots and help in their native language through volunteers, and several Master Gardeners on tap to help, the new greenbelt will be incorporated, we have individuals who are starting donated seeds in their greenhouses all over town and people donating time, energy, materials, insight, and information. I could go on and on and on.
“This thing has taken off and has been humbling and uplifting at the same time. [Our main] purpose is to strengthen the sense of community, connect neighbors, encourage altruistic behavior, provide opportunities for stewardship, science, and personal achievement, while working hard, having fun and enjoying the goodness and bounty of local natural resources (including the people of Gooding).”
Eric Moore has certainly taken this project to heart and what a great opportunity for Gooding. The garden consists of 25 garden plots measuring 20 by 20 feet (7 meters by 7 meters), approximately 1/3 acres (0.14 hectares) of vegetables grown for local food banks, soup kitchens, schools, and people of need within the community, and 1/3 acre (0.14 hectares) of sweet corn grown by the local Future Farmers of America for sale to support their program. In addition, there are wheelchair accessible raised beds, a tactile garden for the sight impaired, and educational opportunities for the science of natural resource conservation. Plans for the near future include an artist’s corner, native and conservation plant displays, pollinator habitat, and a butterfly greenhouse.