Newark is trying to establish a community garden on South Sixth Street.

Newark is trying to establish a community garden on South Sixth Street.

A community garden was there last year, but this effort is different, organizers say, because the city is trying to plan the garden prior to planting.

"This time we are going to hire a planner and do what they suggest," said Terry Mooney, community programs coordinator with the Newark Community Development Department.

Mooney said $1,200 in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) is available for the project. The city used the funds to hire Susan Weber of Local Matters, a nonprofit group in Columbus. The group is dedicated to "building up our local food system," Local Matters executive director Michael Jones said.

Weber has 16 years of experience in "sustainable landscape design and urban food production," according to information from the organization.

Mooney said the city chose Weber because she has started gardens in Columbus that are thriving.

To begin the garden, Mooney said, people are invited to a visioning session at 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 29, at the Old Country Church, 101 S. Fifth St., in downtown Newark, just south of the railroad overpass. During the session, people will learn some of Weber's plans, Mooney said.

"I have encouraged them to engage the community in development of the garden," Weber said.

Weber said organizers already are working with the Old Country Church, Denison University, the city of Newark and My Place To Be, an educational program for children with developmental disabilities. Those partners will help design and develop the project, Weber said.

"On Monday, we hope to get kids, families, community members and growers together," she said.

Mooney said one of the issues that prevented Newark's community garden from surviving more than three years at a time was that the garden needed growers and a place to supply with fresh vegetables. Gardeners are being provided by the Old Country Church and My Place to Be, and the Salvation Army will accept the produce.

"If there's any leftover, we'll sell it in the neighborhood," Mooney said.

The garden will be established on 5 acres on South Sixth Street, south of the railroad trestle, on land owned by Tectum Inc. and leased by Denison for the Garden of Hope. The Garden of Hope was started in 2000 by Denison University student Shannon Kishel. The project is funded through the Denison Community Association and the Licking County Juvenile Court system. Denison students continue to operate the garden, taking referrals of young women who are in the county's probation or diversion program and teaching them to garden.

Mooney said there is enough room for the Garden of Hope, Newark's community garden and for several individual plots if community members would like to start small gardens.

Weber said the project could begin in the fall, with soil turned and pathways put in place. The majority of the planting would be done in the spring. She said an official start date would depend on available funding.