The school at St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Ft. Wayne may currently not be opened but there are plenty of other things to make your visit there worthwhile. Paul Gerardot is a fifth-generation Allen County gardener and former student at St. Henry’s He doesn’t know a stranger and his smile and welcoming manner put people at ease. When he started the gardens at St. Henry’s he knew very little about gardening. He just started building 8 foot by 4 foot raised beds on what was once the school soccer field. In the first year, he built 90 raised beds.
540 Raised Beds and 83 Families
He knows each one of the 83 families that use one or more of the 540 8 ft by 4 ft boxes. I could easily spot the Burmese gardens by their growing of Asian greens. Amazing to see how many different types of crops people planted. Plus there is a pumpkin patch and even blueberries and raspberries.
Paul encourages the police to stop by and wants the area to be police friendly. Each gardener has a wristband so the police can easily tell who belongs and who does not belong in the garden. Paul has another area he calls the Lord’s garden for those in need who do not have a garden plot.
ACGA American community Gardeners Association this is the largest community garden in the United States with 540 8 by 4 Square foot plots.
Support for the community gardens
To support the community gardens, Paul writes grants to community organizations and corporations to get it paid for. Each family who has one or more garden beds is required to volunteer a minimum of six hours to support the gardens. Many volunteer for many more hours. It is a community. Paul loves seeing the buzz of activity each evening in the summer after work.
Thrift shop and food for those in need
Paul also runs the large thrift shop with new and used items including clothes, furniture, household goods and free books. He also has boxes of food for those in need.
St. Henry’s runs many youth programs out of the old school building. And Paul Gerardot had a vision and he sees school buses dropping off kids as St. Henry’s once again opens its doors as a school.
Thanks, Paul Gerardot. Your gardening is certainly a labor of love.