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Room to Grow
By KAYE THORNBRUGH
COEUR d’ALENE — Birds flitted among wilting sunflowers and pinwheels spun in a warm breeze Saturday morning, while volunteers tilled the soil at the community garden at the Lutheran Church of the Master.
Tucked away near the church’s modest playground, many Kootenai County residents don’t realize the garden is there — and that it’s for everyone, not just members of the church.
“Coming out of the pandemic, it was pretty much abandoned,” said Christie Masters.
For three years, volunteers have worked to get the garden back into shape. Their efforts culminated Saturday in a day spent preparing for winter, a task that included building and placing new plant beds, much deeper than the decade-old beds that served previously.
The project cost about $3,000 in soil and materials, funded in part by contributions from the Coeur d’Alene Garden Club and the Kootenai Electric Cooperative Trust.
“The trust board is just happy to be involved in making the community a better place,” said KEC Trust board
member Tom Grundin.
Plans to make the garden flourish again have come to fruition.
The Community Action Partnership food bank received 850 pounds of fresh produce from the garden this summer, a combination of food grown in plots specifically dedicated to the food bank and from community members who offered up part of their own yields.
“We’re very proud of that,” Masters said with a smile.
The produce goes to the food bank the same day it’s picked, Masters said.
“We’re giving some really good product to people who need it for their families,” she said.
Jillian Meatzie worked four beds in the community garden this summer, growing tomatoes, squash, carrots, beets — and, of course, flowers. She took an interest in gardening during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During COVID, I was flailing around and realized I didn’t have a real purpose in life,” she said Saturday.
What she did have was a succulent with an odd-looking offshoot. Meatzie nurtured the plant and, to her surprise, the offshoot one day sprouted a flower. It was a lightbulb moment.
Maybe gardening wasn’t so hard, Meatzie realized. And maybe she could thrive, too, if she tended to herself.
“Ever since then, I’ve done as much gardening as I can,” she said. “Nature helps everybody.”
She said she likes to work in the garden in the evenings when she can take a moment to sit beneath the pergola and listen to birdsong.
“It’s never a bad time in the garden,” she said.
Garden beds cost $20. To reserve one, contact Christie Masters at firstname.lastname@example.org
THORNBRUGH, KAYE. "Room to Grow" CDA PRESS, 10/17/2023