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Libby, Nebraska: Organic Community Garden Overflows

  • Subject: [cg] Libby, Nebraska: Organic Community Garden Overflows
  • From: adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2006 13:17:01 -0400

 Organic community garden overflows 
Diane Rode, left, and Paula Schauss work in a community garden in Northwood. (Photo by Gwen Albers)
Western News Reporter
Two Libby women with help from friends, neighbors and co-workers have cultivated a community garden overflowing with vegetables and flowers.

It all started when retired carpenter Bill Johnson in April moved to a home in Northwood. The yard at one time had a garden, which Johnson's daughter, Paula Schauss, and her co-worker, Diane Rode, wanted to resurrect.

"What's funny is neither of us had a place for a garden, but when my dad found this place, I went to Diane and said, 'I found your garden,'" said Schauss.

"It's been a great year," Rode added. "We got a real early start and didn't get hailed on."

They couldn't have done it without help from many including Schauss' sister, Gloria Byrnes, and Johnson, who grew up on a farm in Wisconsin during the Depression. Rode had her own expertise; she once managed an organic produce department in Helena.

"We work full-time and it was a long process to get it planted," said Schauss, who like Rode is an administrative support employee for CDM. CDM is one of the contractors hired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the multi-million dollar asbestos cleanup in Libby.

"We inherited an asparagus patch," Rode said. "It took Paula and I five days to weed it."

A neighbor graciously offered to rototill the 125- by 30-foot plot, while a local farmer donated manure for fertilizer. Another friend donated poles for building a high enough, deer-proof fence.

"It all turned out so beautiful," Rode said. "We wanted a beautiful garden. With the river and Cabinet Mountains, it's one of the most beautiful gardens."

The organically grown garden has not been treated with pesticides or chemicals - just manure from cows and mink. The women planted Napa cabbage to trap insects.

"The bugs love it and ate that and not everything else around it," Rode said.

The garden has carrots, spinach, lettuce, beets, turnips, peas, broccoli, onions, cantaloupe and watermelon. The are three varieties of kale, five varieties of Swiss chard, eight types of summer squash, six varieties of winter squash and green beans, and numerous herbs.

To brighten up the garden, a mix of perennial flowers with annuals were planted. They also created a prayer wheel with flowers.

"This is a place where you can give thanks to all," Rode said. "You can come in the middle and give thanks to people we know, people who are ill. It's a special place."

The gardeners give away a lot of their produce and flowers.

"We have friends who come and pick," Rode said.

On Wednesday nights, they have garden dinners.

"We pick from the garden and make our meals," Schauss said.
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