HELENA — Depending on your living situation, it can be tough to find a green space, all your own, where you can roll up your sleeves and really get your hands dirty. Luckily there is a space just like that on Helena’s west side.
“I’m not happy unless I got dirt to dig in and I think you could probably say that’s true about everybody down here, " said Helena Community Garden Co-Manager Carol Bishchoff. "Everybody likes to be down in the earth and have the smell and the feel and all that."
The Helena Community Gardens are spread out over nine different locations across the Capital City. All with the same goal - providing the tools and resources for people to grow their own food and help grow their community.
“It’s a tradition in most cultures, that food is something that is shared, in terms of its production and distribution of the finished product," said experienced gardener Jim Barngrover. "So I think it’s something that goes back to a deep-rooted sense of what we’re to do to help each other out, to provide for each other and it’s empowerment. If you grow your own food, you can take responsibility for some aspect of your life instead of being reliant solely upon purchasing it, and it’s so much more nutritious and fresh and just makes such a difference in quality of what you can provide for your family.”
If you stop by any one of the gardens in Helena you’ll find the same thing, community.
“Community, I think is the operative in community garden," added Jim. "Forming relationships and helping each other out, sharing gardening tips and techniques.”
“It’s empowerment. It’s being able to produce your own food and knowing that short distance from garden to table I think is important to a lot of people," said Carol. "And knowing that there is not a lot of ‘junk’ that’s being applied to your food, I think that’s really important that they have that control over what’s planted and what goes in their tummies.”
This community extends outside this dirt and chain-link fence.
“And we grow, each year, about 1,000 pounds for the Helena Food Share and then this year with two of our un-rented plots we’re creating a pumpkin patch," said Garden Manager Daphne Digrindakis. "Where in the fall we’ll, it will be a fundraiser where we’ll invite the community to come purchase a pumpkin."
“There are only two things that money can’t buy, and that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes,” said Jim.