The Horn Farm Center has a program where veteran gardeners and new planters can grow together.

The Community Gardens program will run from April 15 to the end of October at the farm center at 4945 Horn Road in Hellam Township, said Jon Darby, the center's incubator farms project manager.

"The idea for the community garden is that folks from the community can have a place to grow their own food," he said. "Whether it's people who live in apartment complexes that don't provide adequate space for gardening, or people who have shady yards with no direct sunlight, we provide them a place for gardening."

Rent plots: This is the sixth season for the community garden program where people can rent a 20-by-20-foot plot for $40, with an option to add up to three additional plots at $25 each per renter.

"We have 102 plots total," Darby said. "We generally fill them. Some folks will rent more than one plot. About 75 families fill up the plots. We're pretty much expecting that much (participation) this year."

Plants are grown in a chemical-free environment, as Horn Farm Center does not allow pesticides or any other chemical use in the program. Participants can grow vegetables, fruits, herbs or flowers, he said.

Some gardeners plant food just for their homes, while others donate their produce to local food pantries or healthy food programs. Several gardeners sell their items at their own food stands, Darby said.

Inspire gardeners: He said he hopes the garden program will inspire gardeners to volunteer at the farm center or to participate in other center activities.

The Community Garden program draws skilled gardeners who tend to rent the same plots annually, as well as new participants who are trying gardening for the first time or have recently moved to the area, Darby said.

To assists all gardeners, the farm center offers classes and workshops on the topic throughout the year. Center staff will be available to answer gardners' questions, he said.

"And we encourage gardeners to share advice and tips with each other, build relationships, learn something new and grow among other gardeners," Darby added. "That's how we put 'community' in community gardens."

— Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.