"Community" may be the most important aspect of Reynoldsburg's community gardens in Donna Bauman's view.
As director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees the gardens, Bauman has been involved with the project since its inception in 2010.
"The gardens are a way to bring the community together where not only food and flowers are grown, but friendships as well," she said.
They are all that and more, said David Gubanc, who has rented garden space from the city since 2010.
"It's also a great place for contemplation, meditation, fresh air and outside exercise," he said.
Prospective gardeners have until June 15 to apply to rent plots in Reynoldsburg's community gardens behind the Truro Township Fire Station at 6305 E. Livingston Ave. and at Civic Park, 6800 Daugherty Road. Parking for the Livingston Avenue garden is available at the COTA lot, 2100 Birchview Drive.
A full 10-by-20-foot plot costs $40 for residents and $50 for others. Half-size plots cost $20 for residents and $25 for others. The city supplies water, but gardeners must bring their own tools and hoses. Information is available at the Parks and Recreation Department at 614-322-6806.
Both locations have 44 full plots and four half-plots, Bauman said.
"Of the 88 full plots, 76 were rented in 2017 and four of the eight half-plots were rented," she said. "Plots are still available for the 2018 growing season at both locations."
The official opening day for the gardens is May 7, when the water will be turned on.
"Those gardeners who plant cool-season crops may begin sooner," Bauman said.
She said the city began offering community garden plots in 2010 at the Livingston Avenue site. The Civic Park site opened in 2011.
"There is nothing better than enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables you have grown yourself," Gubanc said.
Gubanc said reasons for renting a plot in a community garden could range from having no space at home to a desire to grow things that require more space than a home garden provides.
"I had an interest in growing grapes and berries, and because the garden policy allows renters to renew their plot from year to year and grow perennials, Livingston Garden was ideal for me," he said.
He said community gardening also allows gardeners to see how others manage their plots and what plants flourish and which do not.
Gubanc said the city tills the plots and marks the corners, giving gardeners the opportunity to prepare the soil and make sure they stay within the lines.
"All first-time and returning gardeners are provided plenty of guidance from the city on how to respect other gardeners, properly use the city's water supply and manage the production of compost from green waste," he said. "Many of the gardeners have been doing this for some time and can provide advice to new people if they ask for it."
Gubanc also recommended "self-study" of gardening techniques.
"Taking a walk through the garden reveals the different methods gardeners use to manage their plants," he said.
Bauman said renters are responsible for their own plots but also are encouraged to assist with the common areas of the garden, helping with litter control, overseeing the compost bins and assisting new gardeners.