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The People's Garden

People's Garden Sign

People's Garden Partnership Benefits Preschool Children at the Ohio University-Chillicothe Child Development Center - February 2012

The local USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service Area 5 area office and Ohio University-Chillicothe have formed a partnership to plant and tend to a new People’s Garden at the Ross County/Ohio University-Chillicothe Child Development and Family Service Center.

These two organizations are in the planning stages of the works to be completed this spring.  The proposed projects include a Pollinator Butterfly Garden in the court yard at the Child Development Center and planting wildlife and native plants in the detention storm water are just below the Center.  The partnership plans to prepare a vegetable garden for 2013. 

The preschool children at the Center will be able to study the life cycle of butterflies and identify plants that attract them. They will observe the wildlife and native plants in the land just below the Center.  Small descriptive signage will explain their conservation purpose for the community to see as they tour the building.   The collaborative project will benefit the community by absorbing storm water run-off and protect soil erosion near the Child Development Center.  These plants will be observed by preschool children through the years. 

This project is to commemorate the People’s Department that was founded by Abraham Lincoln in USDA in 1862.  

St. John Community Garden People's Garden
6135 Rings Road
Dublin, Ohio  4301

For more information contact Chris Coulon at 614-255-2471 or

News Release

Columbus Dispatch Story - June 17

THE PEOPLE'S GARDEN INITIATIVE is an effort by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which challenges its employees to establish People's Gardens at USDA facilities worldwide or help communities create gardens. People's Gardens vary in size and type, but all have a common purpose - to help the community they're within and the environment.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Office in Columbus, Ohio, is partnering with St. John Lutheran Church Community Garden in Dublin, Ohio to create first People's Garden in Central Ohio.  The Farm Service Agency and Rural Development State Offices are assisting with the garden as well. 

People's Garden Photo Journal

Planning the Garden - April/May

Chris Coulon (left) and Pastor Greig (right) discuss partnering on a People's Garden in April, 2011

The garden site (foreground) at St. John Lutheran Church in April, 2011

This grass covered field is the garden site on May 30, 2011.  A record wet spring has delayed planting.

Planting the Garden - 1st Week of June

It's finally been dry enough to buy the plants.  It was almost 100 degrees that day however!

One day before planting, setting up the structures and laying out the beds. Chris Coulon and John Armentano bend the cattle panel.

Bryan Lee stakes the cattle panel in place.  The panels are used for
supporting climbing vegetables, such as pole beans and cucumbers.


Bryan Lee and Lauren Dean plant marigolds around the perimeter of the garden to attract beneficial insects.

Barbara Baker (foreground) and TaTrecia Davis (background) plant beans along the cattle panel.

Cindy from Rural Development (foreground), and Jim Stafford and Danielle Balduff from NRCS plant the perennial pollinator garden.  The plants here will attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and birds.

Basil is one of the herbs planted in the garden.  Chamomile, dill, and cilantro were also planted.

 Steve Baker plants tomatillo plants.

The planted garden.  We can't wait to see it grow!

The First Weeks - June

It's been very wet since we planted.  The basil is growing well.  The tomatoes aren't sure about this yet.

Something is feasting on the pak choi but it's still growing.

The sweet grass, cone flowers and butterfly weed
is thriving in the perennial garden.

Mid Season - July

Purple cone flower blooming in the perennial garden.

The onions are growing very well.

Sunflowers bordered by marigolds along the edge of the garden.

Tomatillos hang like paper lanterns from the plant.  People wonder what this strange vegetable is.

The tomatoes are tall enough to tie on the support panel now.  Cilantro grows nearby.

The zucchini plants are growing well but no zucchini yet!

Teaching About Gardening

NRCS staff worked with kids attending a local summer camp for six weeks between June-July to teach them about all the things that go into producing food.  Most of the kids had no experience gardening or even handling soil.  They learned about the soil by taking soil samples and testing it for pH and phosphorus.  They also helped care for the garden and were always enthusiastic waterers.  After their six weeks were over, they all said they liked visiting the garden - even though it was hot.  The NRCS staff that worked with the kids enjoyed seeing the kids discover a little piece of our natural world. 

NRCS Employees do a little weeding before the kids arrive.

It's a lot of work keeping the weeds down, but we've succeeded here!

NRCS State Biologist Mark DeBrock teaches the kids about insects in the garden, both beneficial and not so beneficial.  It's a hot morning.


Finally, the green beans are starting to climb.  Soon there will be beans to pick!

NRCS Public Affairs Specialist Chris Coulon takes the kids through the garden on an impromptu plant ID session.  This is corn.


Late Summer - August

The eggplant is growing but it's not the typical variety.  Odd shape.

Finally the pole beans climbed the support, better late than never!  However, the insects are taking their toll on the leaves.

Okra is in bloom, we've harvested a few pods.  They grow fast and are better if they're harvested when they are small.

The peppers didn't do too well this year but we did harvest a few.  The plants just didn't grow, even with fertilizer.

Our sunflowers are the shining success of the garden.  This is our very first sunflower, what a beauty.  The bees love them too!

Our zucchini struggled all summer.  We had beautiful blossoms, but then they died.  Stink bugs were rampant on the zucchini.


The tomatoes are growing but staying green for a very long time. 

Aside from the sunflowers, basil is the star of the garden.  At this point it's been cut back twice.  It smells wonderful.