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With Groceries Far Away, Community Garden Coming to Silver Grove

The grocery store nearest to most residents of Silver Grove is more than four miles away, where a Kroger is found in Cold Spring.

The lack of immediate access to fresh produce prompted discussion about the creation of a community garden in the city, an opportunity that Josh Tunning explored as he embarked upon the final days of master's of public administration program at Northern Kentucky University. "It can be hard for the average parent to make time and make that haul all the way to Kroger," Tunning said, presenting his capstone project to the Silver Grove City Council last week. He cited other needs, such as Silver Grove's poverty rate (34.2 percent) and health status (35.6 percent of residents are overweight). "It's a cheap solution to get people to be healthier and to be more active."

Members of the city council seemed optimistic about the plan which would place a community garden at 5055 Four Mile Road, a centrally located slice of land. "It's walkable, bikable. No one has to travel very far," Tunning said. "It is already a high-trafficked area. I think it was meant to be a public space."

Tunning presents his proposal to the Silver Grove City Council (RCN)

To get the project rolling, Tunning engaged Robert Yoder, Silver Grove's community and economic development director, and the Campbell County Extension Service, which is part of the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture. 

The University of Louisville, meanwhile, provides a community garden start-up guide that Tunning referenced in his presentation. He estimates a start-up budget of about $1,200, some of which will include a stake survey of the land to address concerns by neighbors who fear the garden encroaching on their property. Yoder predicts that the cost for that will be lower than expected, and would likely take place in March when the ground is softer for analysis. Tunning said residents are already calling the city with interest in participating and that Extension office will provide classes on how to prepare the harvests for meals. 

One problem Tunning ran into for the site is a large tree that blocks the sun. For better or for worse, the tree is a silver maple, for which the small city of roughly 1,100 people is named. "Luckily there is another tree in that lot that is not a silver maple," Tunning said. The silver maple will be trimmed to allow more sunlight and the other tree will be brought down and turned into mulch and wood chips for the garden.

Pelle's Cafe donated pre-built raised beds to help with the effort. That will address concerns over elevated lead levels in the soil.

When the garden gets going and produce is harvested, Tunning said that the possibility of adding a fruit orchard could be explored. A similar initiative in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Walnut Hills recently won a corporate grant to fund such an effort.

Tunning expects that the community garden could be up and running by the spring and will need to be largely governed and managed by citizens. 

Student creates solar-powered Little Free Library for Silver Grove

Covington Latin student Jake Yoder presented his service project to the city council. The sophomore will put a Little Free Library in the new community garden, and it is made entirely from construction materials pulled from dumpsters in Newport.

Jake Yoder poses with Silver Grove Mayor Neal Bedel and his Little Free Library (provided)

The library, which allows users to drop off and take books at will, will feature a solar-powered light to allow readers to see the offerings at night.

He is the son of Robert Yoder, the city's community and economic development director.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher