Belpre Community Garden grows in size

BELPRE – In its second year, the Belpre Community Garden has doubled in size with an eye-catching entrance sign, an official said.

“Like last year, we have 10 plots in the community garden, but we have twice as many of those plots rented as we did last year,” said city auditor and Belpre in Bloom organizer Leslie Pittenger.

During its first year, the community garden, on Blennerhassett Avenue near the city water treatment plant, had three plots rented and six this year.

“One of those plots has been rented by a Girl Scout working on her Silver project,” Pittenger said.

Kayla Arthurs of Belpre Girl Scout Troop 1036 has planted vegetables, including tomatoes, in her plot and plans to donate the foods grown to the Belpre Area Ministries for her project, Pittenger said.

The four plots still available measure 10 feet by 20 feet and cost a $25 deposit, which will be returned if plots are cleaned at the end of the growing season. Water will be supplied for the gardens with a large rain collection barrel, but gardeners will have to supply tools to maintain their plots.

Tomatoes, peppers, pole beans, lettuce, radishes, carrots and other vegetables are encouraged while corn is not because of the space needed for the plants.

Any plots left empty by July will be used by the city for pumpkins, Pittenger said.

“We have some ideas for pumpkins for Halloween and we hope to grow the squash in the community garden,” she said.

The community garden is one of several the city is working on as part of the Belpre in Bloom citywide beautification project.

“A lot has happened this year and we have a lot going on with Belpre in Bloom,” said Pittenger.

Other projects include creating a memorial tree park, cleaning up the city’s fire hydrants and creating planting beds from old tires.

To join the garden is a new sign including planting beds created from the old tires, which have been cleaned and painted by students at Belpre Elementary and High schools. These tires are being stacked and arranged as planters and dividers throughout the city’s parks.

“They really do look pretty cool,” said Mayor Mike Lorentz.

Pittenger said children have appeared to have a good time being involved in the program.

The fire hydrant project will be one of the largest in terms of volunteer hours the committee has planned for this year. Boy Scout Troop 19 of Little Hocking will be helping with this project.

All 312 of the hydrants had old paint and rust removed and painted sky blue while between 50 and 100 will be more decorative with vines and flowers added. Pittenger estimates that each hydrant took an hour-and-a-half to two hours to be refinished.

“This year the community volunteers really picked up,” said Lorentz. “We’ve had people I’ve never seen before show up to planting and cleanup events and the fire department and other organizations have helped, which is really great.”

Belpre in Bloom is a program that encourages beautification and cleanup projects throughout the city. The program first included a series of plantings, cleanups and other activities to make the city more visually appealing through use of color.

As part of the America in Bloom program, two judges, who are master gardeners that donate their time and expertise, will judge the beautification and other projects done by the program this summer and will be looking at community involvement and other aspects to decide the city’s rating.

The judging will take place at the end of the month.