In July, the Help Yourself Garden was announced to the community. Since then it has taken off in popularity not only with people stopping by to pick up free, fresh produce, but donations of produce from other gardeners have been dropped off as well. All of these donations prompted Laura Huth-Rhoades to post a call for action on the Chez Huth-Rhoades & the Help Yourself Garden Facebook page which brought together Amanda Rogers and her Girl Scout Troop along with Amy Gless of Glessboards to collaborate on the building of a farm stand.
Building Upon an Idea
Huth-Rhoades initially thought of a “Blessings Box”, a waterproof container where people could donate and take items such as toothbrushes, canned food, and other items which would not spoil, after the idea was shared with her. There was also a need for a spot where “Give&Take” items people have been donating from personal gardens could be better displayed. Amanda Rogers, Girl Scouts Cadet Troop #4129 leader, indicated her girls would like to volunteer to build something for the garden. Huth-Rhoades shared some various ideas, and in the end a farm stand was selected as a beginning project. This structure would be able to display donated items as well as supplies and recipes for those who take items from the garden. Rogers contacted Gless to see if she would be interested in helping out with the project. Gless is familiar with Rogers’ troop from attending some meetings and events with her granddaughter and was eager to be involved.
With the key players in place, it was time to gather supplies and schedule a build date. Gless came up with plans and a supply list. The community was asked, once again through the Chez Huth-Rhoades & the Help Yourself Garden Facebook page, to donate needed supply items. This past Saturday, August 25 Rogers and her troop, along with the couple behind the Help Yourself Garden, met at the Glessboards shop to construct the farm stand.
Why Donate Time and Supplies?
The building of the farmstand is another indication of how the Lowell community is eager to come together for a good cause. “This farm stand will be made mostly of re-used materials, all mostly donated from across the community! More innovation and sharing in action!” says Huth-Rhoades. She and her husband, Bob and Amanda Rogers and Nick and Amy Gless provided many of the items needed with members of the community filling in to complete the supply list.
Rogers has been impressed with the reaction to the Help Yourself Garden over the past month or so. “ I am amazed at how the community has rallied around Laura’s idea and how it has created such a positive impact on everyone that has visited it.” she says. “And I was blown away by Amy’s enthusiasm for the idea when I reached out to her to see if she would be interested in helping us out! I love finding people in the community that have such a heart for helping out and sharing their expertise.”
Rogers was eager to provide an opportunity for her troop to complete their woodworking badge and Make a Difference patch. Many of the girls in this group attended the Junior Master Naturalist camp at Wittenbach Wege Center so working on something for the Help Yourself Garden was a great way to kick off their fall projects. The girls were not only able to work on a community project, but learned from a woodworking professional, watching her skills in action. This is the largest build her troop has done.
Gless first heard of the garden through Lowell’s First Look. “I think their approach to sharing and community connectivity is innovative and very important. It’s a small garden, a small gesture, and a very big step in a great direction.” she says. When asked why she donated her time and expertise to this project, Gless said, “Because I can. We have skills to share, a few scraps lying around that will help and no good reason to say no.” She saw the importance of the Girl Scouts being able to contribute something to the community they’ll be able to see with ease and be proud of for years to come.
Huth-Rhoades and her husband took the idea of a community garden and presented it, not knowing what kind of response it would receive. “Pleasantly overwhelming” is how Huth-Rhoades explains the reaction. “The stand will better welcome visitors to the garden and will be a proud display of Lowell community collaboration in service to area residents.” she indicates.
Continuing to Grow
As the Help Yourself Garden continues to root itself in the community, the couple behind the idea and implementation are thankful to be new members of the Lowell community. “Tom and I are so incredibly grateful to the entire community for their support and embrace of this project, and to Amanda and Amy and the Girl Scouts for their collaborative spirit and their selfless contributions of time and talent to expanding the resources available in this share garden.” says Huth-Rhoades.
The new farm stand will aid in displaying “Give&Take” produce. It’s the first major addition to the garden since it was revealed in July. Rogers’ troop will also be working on building a “Blessings Box” and monitoring s
tock of what will be offered. They’ve already started the design process with Gless. Girl Scouts have various community projects which are required to obtain certain levels within the group. The ultimate goal is the Gold Award, which is the equivalent of a Boy Scout eagle project, achieved in high school.
The Help Yourself Garden is in its first season, yet it’s already growing. Additional space is being prepped for a larger garden next year in addition to a flower garden where visitors will be encouraged to take clippings to take home. Those who come to visit the garden should leave with a sense of community after seeing the fun, educational, giving, taking, and overall feel-good vibes it gives off.
Unveiling of the Farm Stand
The key players in bringing the new farm stand to the Help Yourself Garden will be on-hand on Wednesday, August 29 at 6pm for the official unveiling and placement in the garden. The community is invited to stop by and get a first glimpse of the stand, thank those who were behind the addition to the space, and check out what there is to offer in the garden. This is also a great time for anyone with extra items from a personal garden looking to share with the community to come and help fill the farm stand with free produce for the community to take.
Photos taken by Laura Huth-Rhoades and used with permission.