Flowers, friendships blossom at community garden

Suzi Starheim

Church offers space to local green thumbs

Kent resident Bill Suboski waters his tomato plant at the Water Street Church community garden. Kent resident Bill Suboski waters his tomato plant at the Water Street Church community garden. Kent resident Bill Suboski waters his tomato plant at the Water

Credit: DKS Editors

Tucked away behind the Water Street Church are rows and rows of vegetables and flowers grown by community members. This is the Water Street community garden.

This establishment was originally hosted by a community garden club that leased the land to the church. Denny Fox, the Water Street Church pastor, said the garden club left around 1990, and the gardens weren’t used for several years.

Fox, who has been a member of the church for 35 years, became its pastor four years ago.

“When I became pastor, we saw that empty land as an opportunity to reach out to the community since we still had the land,” Fox said. “We are hosting it all ourselves now.”

Kent resident Pam Dunford brings her two children with her to the community garden because her husband’s mother brought him and his siblings there years ago.

This summer is Dunford’s second year gardening here, and she made gardening a family activity by buying her mother-in-law her own plot in the gardens right next to theirs. The family shares the plants from both plots.

Fox said most gardeners end up making gardening behind the church a family affair by bringing grandchildren or younger family members with them to water and weed the plots. He also said gardening here seems to form bonds between many of the gardeners.

“Growing and Eating with the Seasons”

The Water Street Church will be hosting an organic gardening seminar dubbed “Growing and Eating with the Seasons” at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 22. Karen Geiser will be speaking and sharing a fun variety of her own plants with those attending. The seminar is open to all community members. R.S.V.P. by Aug. 10 to 330-673-4905. Leave a message for Brenda Fox.

For more information visit and

“It’s a wonderful time to relax and relate to people,” Fox said. “Everyone enjoys it and there is a great spirit among the gardeners.”

Since Fox re-established the garden, it has grown from two rows of plots – each plot measuring 25-by-50 feet – to adding a third row of smaller ones as well. Fox said this addition has resulted in about 12 extra gardening spaces.

Fox said 46 garden plots became available this year, and gardeners are using all of them.

“We knew this year would probably be very popular, and we were lucky we added the last section,” Fox said.

Dunford said her family grows different plants each year. This year, they are growing tomatoes, pumpkins, green beans, peppers, onions, squash and cucumbers.

“If you don’t have the space or don’t want to tear up your yard, these plots work perfectly for gardening,” Dunford said. “We get all that we want from these gardens.”

Fox said while he hasn’t noticed any students gardening this year, he has had Kent State faculty using plots in the past, and he would love for students who live near or on campus to get involved with the community gardens.

“Our church is looking for ways to include the Kent State community and I’d love for students to come and join our gardens,” Fox said.

There is a nominal fee – $10 for a small plot, $25 for a large – to obtain a planting area for the season, Fox said. This fee also covers the cost of water.

Fox said any legal plants can be grown in the gardening plots, and potatoes, beans, corn and squash grow wonderfully in their soil.

Contact news correspondent Suzi Starheim at [email protected].