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Omaha Magazine

Community Gardens Grow More Than Greens

May 01, 2021 10:02AM ● By Patrick McGee

Omahans wanting to try their hand at planting and harvesting crops, but without ample yard space, might try joining a community garden. Community gardens boast plot sizes comparable to most homeowner’s dedicated garden space and have popped up all around town. Gardeners should not wait too long to sign up, however, because plots tend to fill up fast.

Those interested in seeing for themselves should drive by the Dundee Community Garden at 4902 Underwood Ave. The beautified lot hosts multiple gardening plots, as well as a “neighbor garden” on the southern edge, along Underwood. Garden president Mary Green said the neighbor garden often produces tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, and rhubarb and is open to everyone. “If [passersby] see something enticing, they can take it.” She also requested people not harvest from other plots.

The Dundee Community Garden is a nonprofit organization founded with land purchased from a developer in 2013. The garden has 41 individual 4-foot by 10-foot plots for members, rented for $40 per growing season (largely to offset the property and water costs of the community garden). The garden lot also contains common areas, including several charity gardens, the fruits of which are donated to those in need. Garden members are expected to help maintain communal areas; volunteering two hours per month to weed and preen is recommended. The gardening organization hosts festive events and activities as well, such as a June ice cream social, watermelon-eating in July, and workshops on plants and pollinators. 

Green said the garden beautifies the neighborhood, brings people together, and is open to the public. The waiting list for a plot at the Dundee Community Garden is two years.

Another fantastic specimen of a neighborhood garden is the Benson Community Garden, which broke ground in 2011. Situated at 1302 N. 60th St., the Benson Garden benefits from open skies and full sun most of the day, which will do wonders for vegetable plants. Like the Dundee Community Garden, the Benson Garden is also a nonprofit. Garden president Kurt Goetzinger lives next door to the site in an old farmhouse. He is passionate about environmental and conservation issues, and collects rainwater for garden members to nourish their plots. 

The Benson Community Garden hosts 18 separate 4-foot by 12-foot plots, rented for $45 per season, and 18 individual 4-foot by 8-foot plots, rented for just $35 per season. Common areas host fruit trees, herb plots, and even an earthen stage for performances. Garden members are expected to chip in labor to help maintain common areas. The garden is also open to the public, but please contact Goetzinger about booking it before using for any events. 

Goetzinger said the Benson garden hosts movie screenings and a salsa competition, and houses a “bountiful box” full of nonperishable foods, such as canned items and boxed foods, so that people with food insecurity can help themselves. 

In February, when plots are made available, they fill up within two hours,
he added.

Many people may prefer to garden in their own yards, but not everyone has the real estate. Even if it’s feasible, one’s home garden will likely not support the social aspects of a community garden. For those interested in gardening, as well as charity, making friends, and community-building, community gardening may be just the right option.  

For more information, visit dundeegarden.org and bensongardens.org

This article originally appeared in the May 2021 issue of Omaha Home. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.