City of Shelby and the Toole County Extension Office partnered to develop a community garden with the goal of increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables
In 2006, Shelby received a $4,000 planning grant from the Montana Nutrition and Physical Activity Program to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases (NAPA), funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NAPA’s four goals are to increase physical activity, increase fruit and vegetable consumption, increase breastfeeding. As a result of this grant the City of Shelby and the Toole County Extension Office partnered to develop a community garden with the goal of increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
The Community Garden is a long-term project. Last year another garden located near the Senior Center was added. This garden features raised beds to help make gardening more physically accessible for the Seniors. Students from the Afterschool and Summer program participate in a garden club. The students have a garden area that they care for during the summer. Curriculum is offered on both gardening and healthy eating by Extension Staff
The Community Garden has several partners that have been very supportive: Afterschool RECCS Program, Shelby Public School, City of Shelby, Toole County Extension Office, Master Gardeners, Toole County Conservation District, and Shelby Community Garden Committee.
The biggest factor for success of the garden was having the right combination of volunteers, donations, and funds. The Garden was very fortunate to have a retired farmer on the Garden Committee who installed the garden including rotilling irrigation, and installation of the fence and raised bed. The City of Shelby provided the site and water free of charge, the RECCS Afterschool program provided funding for the fence and garden tools. When the garden opened the first season all the potential gardeners had to provide was seed and a little hard work.
40 families have plots at the gardens. About half the plots are young families and the other half are older folks. The Afterschool program has 30 participants from K-6th grade that maintain a plot. The Shelby Elementary 4th graders maintain a plot of wheat at the Community Garden for a class project.
Shelby Community Garden President Zane Zell uses garden plots to demonstrate different gardening techniques such as square foot gardening and trellising to garden visitors. Next year the Community Garden will have a new feature. A green house is being installed as a result of a grant from the Conservation District.