Veggies, flowers and spirits abloom at Prairie Village community garden

Cathy Wilson shows off some of her squash as Cheryl Hansen looks on.
Cathy Wilson shows off some of her squash as Cheryl Hansen looks on.

By Chris Heady

It’s 9:04 a.m. when Cheryl Hansen arrives at the Prairie Village Community Gardens at Harmon Park, a pale pink bucket and a thin black kitchen knife in each hand. She high-steps over the chicken wire surrounding the garden and into shade cast by giant sunflowers, finding brief cool from the humid July morning.

She makes her way to her half-plot past a garden full of tomatoes and beans. Hansen squats down and brushes strands of her shoulder-length white hair behind her ear and begins sifting through the zucchini leaves, trying to add to her already flourishing bunch back home.

Hansen is one of the many gardeners who is enjoying the community garden at 7711 Delmar this summer. She says it’s the perfect spot for a garden for those who need space for produce.  

“Prairie Village is so tree’d so there is no sun for a garden (in some places),” said Hansen, who comes to the garden twice a week to water and pick her vegetables. “Not to mention all the chipmunks and squirrels who get to them before I do.”

2013 marks the second year of the Harmon Park community garden just outside the Prairie Village Pool. The garden opened with 20 plots in the spring of 2012 and has now grown to 38 plots in the last year, becoming a hotspot for local gardeners. Another several plots are outside the Cherokee Christian church off 75th Street.

This year the community added a new feature to their garden: plots for produce grown strictly for donation. The produce, which includes tomatoes and beans among other things, will be donated to the food pantry when they’re ripe and to be picked.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for a way for people to give back,” Hansen said.

As Hansen pulls out another zucchini there’s a voice behind her.

“You gonna use that hose or can I?”

It’s Cathy Wilson, a regular in the garden.

“Go ahead!” Hansen calls back.

Wilson drags the long green hose toward her sunflowers, which look as though they’re the overseer in this garden, standing nearly twice as tall as Wilson.

“Wow look at these, they’ve really gotten big!” She says with an ear-wide grin as she begins to water their base.

Wilson agrees with Hansen that the idea of a community garden is great. She’s been growing flowers produce all of her life and was excited when she heard about the opportunity to be a part of the community garden last year. She is notorious for being the first person at the garden in the morning, and checks on her flowers, squash and “nami” beans twice a day.

“Produce is so expensive and it tastes better if you’re the one who worked for it,” said Wilson, who who lives just down the street from the garden. “It’s fun to watch everything progress. The whole garden is just great.”

The community garden project plans to grow even more soon, with raised beds planned for installation at the Cherokee Church location during the coming winter.

The gardens don't just house veggies. These giant sunflowers tower over the plots.
The gardens don’t just house veggies. These giant sunflowers tower over the plots.