Dubuque Pool Gardens

March  21, 2014

      It's too cold for swimming, but volunteers in Dubuque are getting ready to put wading pools in backyards. But, instead of water, they'll be filled with dirt for growing food.

      Saint Luke's United Methodist Church is preparing for its fourth annual, community "Wading Pool" garden project.  Coordinator, Mary Purdy, says grants and donated materials pay for the program to provide low income residents with everything they need to grow their own food.  On the last Friday in April, volunteers will deliver the materials to people who've applied for wading pool gardens.

      "They deliver and put together the wading pool garden. By that I mean they place the wading pool where it's going to be, and then pour in 14, 40-pound bags of compost, manure, peat, and vermiculite. And they mix it all up like stirring a cake."

      Then the first Saturday in May, the Community Gardening Project will host a fair, where participants pick up 20-dollar vouchers to buy the seeds and plants they want to grow, and that their kids will eat. Volunteers will also hand out literature about container and small space gardening.  Purdy says in the past, the church focused on individuals and families who live downtown, where Saint Luke's is located. 

      "This year we are particularly focused on day cares, pre-schools, schools, nursing homes, and group homes."

      Volunteers also follow up with residents who have wading pool gardens from previous years. They can receive the vouchers, too. She says several groups help every year, such as the Young Professionals of Dubuque, the Day of Sharing, and the city.