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A place for the community to grow
Times photo: Brenda Steurer Phil Hoffman Jr., Monroe, checks his pepper plants Tuesday in his garden. Hoffman rented some space in Grace Lutheran Churchs community garden near Resurrection Lutheran Church on Monroes north side. Anyone can rent a lot in the garden to grow their own vegetables this summer.
MONROE - Grace Lutheran Church in Monroe had some extra land and Phil Hoffman Jr. wanted a place to grow some vegetables - a clear match.

Hoffman and nine others rented garden spots from the church's community garden, located near Resurrection Lutheran Church, N3029 14th Ave.

Hoffman was able to plant any vegetable he wanted in his 25-by30-foot lot.

He got the idea of his own garden after reading about the Victory Gardens planted during World War II. It's a chance to grow some extra food to save money this fall, he said.

About three weeks ago, Hoffman started to work in his garden. He tilled the ground three times to get it ready and last week he planted the vegetables he wants to eat.

"This is my first real garden," he said as he checked some of plants to see if they had started to grow.

Jim Sinkule, Monroe, and his family planted their garden Saturday. They planted corn, peas, beans, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Sinkule said he used to help his mom with the garden when he was younger.

"I don't know how many of the peas we picked made it to the house," he laughed. "We used to shuck them and eat them in the garden."

The entire Sinkule family plans to make the garden their project this summer.

"Food always tastes better when it comes from your own garden," he said.

So far, about 15 people have rented the lots. There's enough room for 100 garden spots, church member Bob Vickerman said.

He hopes to see the entire community garden filled with little plots, each one different from its neighbor as people plant their own favorite vegetables.

The lots cost $10 to rent.

"You can raise $10 worth of vegetables pretty easy, so it really pays for itself," Vickerman said.

Vickerman's wife, Gaida, came up with the idea for a community garden and the church council decided it was a good idea. If it goes well this first year, it could become an annual thing.

"It's a good way to save some money," he said. "A lot of people don't have the room for their own garden."

People don't have to be church members to rent the space, Vickerman said. Gardeners are responsible to keep up their own plots.

Vickerman said he plans to let his wife take care of their garden.

"I have a black thumb when it comes to gardening," he said with a laugh.