El Dorado Springs Community Garden: Apologies to Everyone

We wish to apologize to anyone who has been disappointed and/or inconvenienced by our “Do Not Pick” the produce rule at the Garden. It is difficult to communicate with everyone despite the fact that we are on Facebook and have had numerous publications in the newspapers and on the radio.

A misunderstanding seems to exist about who is authorized to pick the produce and where the produce goes. Evidently, part of the misunderstanding has to do with the definition of a “community garden” and what its purpose actually is. There are thousands of community gardens in active status in most states and each one is defined in a different way.

The El Dorado Springs Community Garden has been designed so that it would be an attractive spot for all who are interested and a place where everyone would feel welcome, as well as a place to grow fresh produce for those in our community who cannot afford to buy it.  And, that is still the case.

There are rules, however, for the Garden space as there are rules for everywhere we go in life. Our rules are clearly written and a handout is available in our new Little Free Library. One rule, though, may not be clearly spelled out and that rule has to do with who is authorized to pick the produce and where the produce is taken.

When we applied for the grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks in Fall, 2018, we had to outline for them a detailed plan for our Garden. In that application we specified that all the produce grown would go to the community and that would be accomplished by giving our produce to the Senior Center, the Food Pantry and, added later, the Soup Kitchen. We received a $3,000 grant from Community Foundation and we have diligently followed our pledge since the Garden began producing in May. Since that time we have given over 300 lbs. of vegetables to these community outreach programs. We pick the produce three or four times a week and make our deliveries accordingly. There are six volunteers authorized to pick the vegetables and to deliver them.

Lately, there have been unauthorized individuals/parties in the Garden picking produce who seemed to think they are entitled to the tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. We put up a “Do Not Pick” sign which was stolen. Now, we have another sign which clearly states the “no pick” rule.

Our goal is not to deprive anyone of fresh vegetables. Fresh vegetables grown at the Community Garden are available at the Nazarene Church North Campus Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry, at the Senior Center and at the Church of Christ Food Pantry. We hope everyone is able to get to one of these places.  But, please do not pick produce at the Community Garden. Only authorized Community Garden Volunteers can pick the produce. Each authorized volunteer is required to complete a Registration Form, sign a Waiver of Liability and an acknowledgment of Garden Rules. If you would like to be a volunteer, these forms are available.