Gardeners tended to their various flowers, produce and herbs in a nature preserve near the South Fork Palouse River where they are protected from the sound of nearby roads.
The Pullman Community Garden at Koppel Farm serves as a habitat for various insects, pollinators and wildlife. Tim Paulitz, the garden’s plot coordinator, said gardeners use the space as a means to grow plants, be social and find refuge in nature.
The community garden’s spring fair, open house and plant sale were canceled, as well as small potlucks and theatre productions.
Despite daily tasks and exchanges being altered by the pandemic, people in the garden still find solace by interacting with one another from their plots. Paulitz said gardeners pass on their knowledge of plants to one another or just chat about random topics.
“The interaction day-to-day is still there,” he said.
Paulitz said the community garden serves as a resource for everyone in the community, such as local food banks and people who walk by on trails nearby.
The garden consists of about 100 garden plots that range from 20 feet by 20 feet or 10 feet by 10 feet, some of which remain unclaimed. The space between plots makes it easier for gardeners to maintain social distancing, Paulitz said. Gardeners are also urged to use their own hand tools and not come to the garden if they are sick.
Pat Siler, a community garden board member, said he moved from gardening in his backyard to tending to his plants in the community garden because he enjoys the environment more. Siler grew various green tomatoes and turnips, as well as milkweed plants for the monarch butterflies.
“You’re with a bunch of other people who will also like to grow things and are interested in plants and all that,” he said.
Jori Love, mowing committee director, said the garden is still lively despite the required distancing. She said people set up camp chairs as they take a break and can easily carry on a conversation.
“We’re talking to our neighbor on one side or a neighbor on the other because we’re out there for hours,” she said.
Love said it is common for gardeners to bring their lunch and spend most of the day near their plots. She said working in the community garden helps fill the lack of social interaction people may be experiencing.
“I love to have my hands in the dirt. I think I feel better when I do at the same time,” she said. “It is kind of a vital resource to be able to get out and do something that’s in nature.”
Growing plants in the community garden also provides tasty produce that cannot be found in grocery stores, she said. Love has accumulated a plethora of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants with squash, beets and more on the way.
Linda Myer, a community garden board member, said working in the community garden is a great way to take her mind off things. She also donates her plots to the garden, which benefits food banks.
“Nature will help with your mood, which is always a nice thing,” she said.