MIAMI – The Health Literacy Project-Miami Community Garden is sprouting.
The garden, a joint effort of the Ottawa County Health Department, the Northeast Tribal Health System, Integris Baptist Regional Health Center and the Miami Public Library, is located on a parcel of land adjacent to the health department, 1930 North Elm.
Volunteers put together three of the initial four garden beds Monday.
The Miami Public Library's Health Literacy Project received a $10,000 grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.
“The seed money helps,” Miami Public Library director Marcia Johnson said. “We couldn’t have done this without it. By the time we are done, we probably will have invested about $6,000. The grant was for $10,000, but some money was used for other projects.”
She said the budgeted amount was enough to buy blocks, dirt to fill the beds, ground cover and other items needed.
The elevated beds are 4-feet by 10-feet.
“That is a good size; it is not overwhelming for any one person,” Johnson said.
At this point, the four partners will maintain the four beds or have people they know come in and work them.
Some of the produce reaped may go to organizations like The Harbor and the Community Crisis Center. “We looked at other community gardens and there are all sorts of possibilities there to expand,” Johnson said.
She said there are plans to write the grant again, but officials are expecting it to be less due to the state budget crisis.
“We’ve already been told the grant won’t be as big next year, but it will still be big enough to work with the project,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Miami city manager Dean Kruithof was interested in an idea of putting gardens on city-owned property that currently are having to be maintained.
Promoting healthy eating is the primary goal of the garden.
Oklahoma ranks 49th out of 50 states in the consumption of vegetables.
“Our county is notoriously unhealthy, but all of Oklahoma is, really,” Johnson said. “One of the big things is eating vegetables. Some statistics show that 47 percent don’t eat healthy vegetables in the county.”
Plans are to hold gardening and healthy eating classes. Another possibility is exercise classes.
“We want to make it (the garden) a place to do community things,” Johnson said.
Jim Ellis is managing editor of the Miami News-Record. He can be reached by phone at 918-542-5533, ext. 3052, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mnrsportsguy.