OAKLAND CITY — Temperatures were in the 90s last Friday afternoon as skies cleared after the week's persistent rain, but that didn't stop a group of Oakland City residents from working in a new community garden.
"At least there's a little breeze," Denise Culver said as she dug into the dirt around a newly placed tomato plant.
Denise and her husband Chris started thinking about what they could do to help the community in connection with their church's impact group back in February. The two are members of Trinity United Methodist Church, which is visible from the garden's plot on Mulberry Street.
Chris said church members had gone door-to-door previously with bags of groceries for community members. Some accepted them, while others let them keep going for someone who may have needed them more.
The idea to create a community garden had the same goal in mind — help those who need it.
That means the Culver's don't expect the vegetables grown to only go to those on the same street or within a mile's walk.
"This garden's for anybody in Oakland City," Denise said.
The garden is still in its early stages of growth and in some ways, the project itself is too, as the Culvers continue to put all the pieces together. Denise said they are still looking to put up a mailbox where community members can send or leave donations, questions, and comments in regard to the garden.
Denise said they would accept donations of more concrete blocks for the compost area, bamboo stakes for the plants, and chicken wire for fencing.
They can't afford the fee to turn on the water to the property, so a fellow congregation member donated them an extra-long hose that will reach from their property across the street to the garden. Chris said the church will pay for the water used at the garden.
Physical labor is always helpful as well. The couple had two neighbors out helping Friday afternoon, one of whom just happened to see Denise out by herself one day.
Patricia Bayless said she went home and told her family she was going out to help in the garden, she just didn't think Denise needed to be out working on her own. She said she also doesn't mind pitching in to help the community.
Bayless followed behind Chris and made sure there was a plant in each hole he created with a planting tool, as Denise followed behind pruning and finalizing the spots.
They talked about anything and everything to pass the time while they worked — ghosts, the heat, planting techniques. Denise directed Chris how to prepare for the next plant, which was best with the hole dug at an angle.
"Why at an angle?" Chris asked.
"Because that's what the internet says to do," Denise said with a laugh.
The two have been married for 29 years and Chris is in complete support of the time and effort Denise has put in so far to the project that he calls "an awesome idea."
"She has put in the hours," Chris said. "She doesn't complain about anything."