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April 25, 2012 | 08:45 AMWILLIAMS BAY — With a little luck and good weather, a village community group may have a community "promo-garden" growing on the site of the former Keg Room in the village business district.
Seven avid gardeners showed up for an informal meeting Saturday at the Lions Fieldhouse with Jennifer Moore, Williams Bay parks and recreation director.
The purpose of the promo-garden would be to generate interest in a permanent community garden next year.
More than just cukes and tomatoes, the garden might also include decorative blooming plants that help the vegetables grow, called companion planting.
The local gardeners must also decide on what kind of vegetable garden they are going to plant.
"Are we organic, or are we not organic?" asked Moore.
Members said not everyone is familiar with organic gardening, which makes it a learning experience.
Also, the Keg Room site has no water connections. Rain barrels may work, but permission is needed.
And if it turns out that the Keg Room site and other public sites might not be available, Moore said an option would be to start the promo-garden in one of the gardener's yards.
The promo-garden has a tentative name, the Bay Bountiful Garden.
Because it's late in the season, nothing permanent will be planted this year, Moore said.
Instead, vegetables will be planted in a raised bed, essentially a box filled with soil.
Sizes of the box discussed at the meeting were either 2-by-6 feet or 4 feet square and 1 foot deep.
Don Skalla, who is studying to be a master gardener through the University of Wisconsin-Extension program, said with soil and plants, the boxes would be very difficult to move, short of a tornado.
Moore said the Recreation Department may arrange gardening workshops through the cooperation of the extension and the master gardners.
If volunteers are needed to help set up the promo-garden, Moore said the Williams Bay Recreation Department has relations with the Holiday Home Camp in Williams Bay, so there is an opportunity to get kids from the camp to help.
Volunteer work may also be requested from the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts troops and even the Lake Geneva Generals semi-pro football team might be asked to help, Moore said.
Meanwhile, some members said they will be starting seeds indoors.
The community garden has seemed to generate wide interest, although the commitments aren't there, yet.
What the Bay Bountiful Garden needs now is a home.
Moore said the owner of the Keg Room property, 77 N. Walworth Ave., seems interested in the proposal, but she hasn't received formal permission to use the site. Moore said she's hopeful because that same property was used for Williams Bay's Festival of Trees during the Christmas holiday season.
The Village Board is open to a proposal from the gardening group, but it still needs to give permission for the project.
The next Village Board meeting that can take up the issue is on May 16, Moore said.
The School Board has also informally offered the group an opportunity to present a proposal, she said.
Finally, George Williams College is planning on installing an educational garden, which might become a community garden, as well, Moore said.
Moore said the group, which is still informally organized, should consider how to support the garden.
While organizations and businesses occasionally donate soil, plants and seeds, a more permanent solution might be to charge a nominal rent for predetermined plats within the garden, Moore said.
Mark Stewart, a gardener at the meeting, said there should be means test to determine how much that rent might be.
"We want to make sure people of less means have access to it," said Stewart. He added the group should consider giving people on food stamps a pass on paying a rental fee.
Finally, the garden can't just be bountiful, it must also be beautiful.
"Aesthetically, it must also look good," Moore said. What looks good to a gardner might not be appealing to the passerby, she said.
A gardener at the meeting, Amanda Granger, volunteered to do research on vegetable companion plants.
The hoped-for results of the promo-garden will be a small bounty of healthy vegetables. The group is still deciding what to with the anticipated harvest, although Stewart suggested that what comes out of the garden might be donated to a local food pantry.