On Saturday, October 7th, the Lone Elm Community Garden hosted their 4th annual Harvest Party to celebrate the 6,000 lbs of produce they grew at their donated plot of land at Christ Community Church in Olathe, Kansas.
Although it had a festival atmosphere with face painting, bounce houses, scavenger hunts, and hayrides, it was more than a celebration of growing food. It was also a “mission accomplished” celebration for Melisssa Hanlin, who manages the garden along with Aly Hethcoat and Jen Dennis.
“We held our 4th annual Harvest Party last weekend as a way to fulfill our mission of connecting our community to the Earth through gardening, hospitality and education. We celebrated our harvest with garden tours and veggie tastings as well as giving away extra produce. We educated the public in our tours talking about how we eat different parts of plants, identifying garden plants and how peanuts and cotton can be grown in Kansas.” – Melissa Hanlin
The mission also includes feeding the hungry. Lone Elm’s Rows for the Hungry donation garden benefits multiple communities by sending vegetables weekly to Kansas City Rescue Mission where they use produce in meals for homeless clients.
Lone Elm also distributes produce to New Hope Food Pantry, Center of Grace and Catholic Charities in Olathe for distribution. A portion of their produce also supplements the groceries given to those participating in Westside Nazarene’s Manna Ministry.
Lone Elm started out in 2014 as a 100’x100’ donation garden area and an allotment area with 20 raised beds and 12 in ground plots.
They have since expanded the donation garden by adding another 3200ft’ while also adding an orchard in 2016 that has 9 apple & pear trees along with 2 bush cherries and strawberries and increasing the number of rentable allotment plots to 37 in 2017!
Hanlin and company reached out to KCCG when they were getting started.
“Our connection to KCCG started back in 2014 when we utilized the resources that KCCG offered to help community gardens get started. We received insight and direction from the staff and purchased plants and seeds to grow in the garden. We continue to rely on KCCG for plants and seeds, insight on issues that come up and KCCG’s educational programs. In addition, we are connected through the Giving Grove as they helped us plan and plant the orchard as well as provide educational guidance for its care.” – Melissa Hanlin
Every year since it’s inception, Lone Elm Community Garden has annually increased donation production and have educated many of the allotment gardeners to maximize their production in their plots. If the demand is there, they may add more raised bed allotment plots next year.