The goal is to recruit interested kids from the surrounding neighborhood or anywhere in the area, from preschoolers to teens.
“It’s for learning while growing, doing fun projects and fixing the foods they grow,” said Mary Crabtree, who founded Oasis with Terry Fredrich and Sherry Chen about a decade ago.
Crabtree said the group was about to begin working with The Ark, an afterschool program offered in the building adjacent the garden, this spring before the pandemic hit. They’ll pursue that association again when school begins this fall.
The first items kids will grow include pumpkins and gourds which should be ready to harvest in time for the fall season.
Oasis gardeners Dave and Deb Brugger braved the 90-plus degree weather late one afternoon to install a section for the kids to grow these initial items. A retired educator, Deb Brugger enjoys still educating while promoting her hobby, and is especially excited about a library filled with books on gardening at the new cottage.
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“We love to teach and there’s so much to learn,” she said. “We want to instill the rules, this is your place.”
One of the youngest gardeners is 8-year-old Delaney Leach. She’s spent time “forever” working in gardens around her home and is excited to join other kids.
“You get to spend time with family and grow juicy and healthy vegetables,” she said about her motivation to join in.
Fredrich is pleased how Oasis has evolved over the past decade. In 2019, about 35 donors put up $15,500 to build a barn to raise chickens that was completed in March.
He said it shows the dedication of those who have plots, which include a wide variety of people such as college professors and groups including churches and Springfield firefighters, who give away some of what they harvest.
“I call it a social economic mixer,” Fredrich said of the gardeners.
Although Oasis has all its plots filled and there’s a waiting list for others who’d like to garden there, he calls it one of the area’s best kept secrets.
For more information on Oasis Community Garden, search for its Facebook page.