DAMASCUS – Plots are now available at the Galilee Organic Community Garden for individuals interested in gardening.

“This is our third yard of doing it,” said Rev. Jean Blackie, Pastor of the Damascus Area United Methodist Churches. “We're really excited.

“There's an increasing number of gardeners each year.”

The Damascus Manor United Methodist Church and the Abrahamsville United Methodist Church make up the parish.

The garden is located at the Unity Grange, 544 Galilee Road. Blackie said they anticipate the garden will be ready on Memorial Day.

It is sponsored by Preserving, Enriching and Appreciating Rural Life (PEARL) Center for Rural Ministry, an outreach of the Damascus Area United Methodist Churches, in partnership with the Galilee Grange and many other community partners.

Half of the garden has plots that are 10 feet x 10 feet that available at a first come, first serve basis.

“They are plots for people in the community,” Blackie stated.

“Maybe they can't till their own garden plot, maybe there are weekenders who don't have time to get a garden together and they can plug into one already set up for them or sometimes [people] prefer to do gardening in a different place.

She added in the past there was a gardener who had one at home, but wanted to experiment with corn so they got a plot.

“We wanted to provide a place for the community,” Blackie said.

She added the PEARL Center seeks to preserve and enrich rural life.

“One aspect of rural life is gardening,” Blackie stated.

“Nothing is healthier than organic gardening. Some people might want to try out gardening organically and we wanted to provide a space for that too.”

The second half of the garden is set aside for the Tri-Gal 4-H Club. A portion is used for growing pumpkins and the other has “all kinds of vegetables” that go back to the community.

“When the vegetables are harvested, they go to the township food pantry,” Blackie stated.

“The growing months can provide some fresh produce that's healthy, locally grown and organically produced for the food pantry.”

She added the parish is always looking for volunteers to help with that half of the garden as well.

“It's a great community experience,” Blackie said about the garden. “You can meet neighbors [and] you can contribute to the township food pantry.

“It can help the community learn how to garden organically if they don't know already or maybe they enjoy flowers and the bees. It's a great experience.”

She added gardening is a great family activity and is a great way for families to “spend a summer's evening or weekend morning” caring for a garden plot.

Experienced and inexperienced gardeners are invited to take part.

They are also asked to practice organic gardening methods such as not using chemicals on their plots.

Blackie stated the Unity Grange had an outhouse behind the building that was donated to the community garden.

“It was moved into the garden and is being fixed up to be a tool shed. The youth during a summer mission program camp also built a compost bin for us.”

She added everyone does their part at the garden.

“Different parts of the community help out,” Blackie stated.

“Some have donated mulch, plants and flower seeds. Some pick up rocks.

“When we till the garden there's always new rocks so we're looking for rock pickers as well.”

She added they also need help with weeding and mulching.

For more information or to volunteer or donate, call Kathy at (570) 224-0211. You can also call the church office at (570) 224-4637.