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      Ottumwa's community garden project continues to grow

      The United Way of Wapello County's community garden project has been such a success, they've committed to expanding it even more.

      Eight businesses sponsored beds at the corporate garden in the Industrial Park last year. All of them are either planning to plant again this year, or have committed to growing their own garden.

      With funds from a Volunteer Generations grant, the United Way was able to hire a community garden coordinator, Jen Daugherty, to handle the project.

      "It just really makes it a complete project, being able to connect with everybody and having someone to manage it," said Marie Zoromski, Community Impact Associate at the United Way.

      This year, the organization wants to start one more garden somewhere in town. Along the way, they'll be reaching out to different groups like Ottumwa's master gardeners and the Learning Garden at Pioneer Ridge to continue the project's success.

      "In the next few years, we're hoping to start a few more and get them in the communities where people can grow their own food if they don't have the space in their yards or maybe their apartment buildings, they can have a place in town where they can come and grow their own food," Daugherty said. "And also we really want to be out in the communities working with people and then we'll have the corporate garden for the businesses in town."

      The first work day at the corporate garden will be April 16. Daugherty said everybody is welcome to come help out and you don't need to sponsor a bed to volunteer.