PITTSBURG — Over the past few months Arma residents, along with the nonprofit group Live Well Crawford County, have been planning a community garden project.

Now, with a site selected and approved by the city for the garden at 829 E. Washington St. at the southwest corner of McDonald Park, organizers of the project have launched a fundraising campaign to get the garden up and running.

On Monday, the Feed Arma fundraising effort had already gathered more than $3,750 — including $3,000 from the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas — with a little more than $5,500 remaining to raise to reach its goal. Additional donations of up to $100 will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Kansas Health Foundation, according to Matt O’Malley, health equity grant coordinator and community liaison for Live Well Crawford County.

The Feed Arma fundraising page at https://www.ioby.org/project/feed-arma notes that a $5 donation will cover enough plants to grow 25 pounds of peppers, $10 will cover enough plants to grow 100 pounds of tomatoes, $20 will cover the cost of a garden tool, $50 will cover a year's worth of seeds, and $100 will cover a year's worth of fertilizer.

In addition to providing space at McDonald park for the community garden site, the Arma City Council has also approved a plan to supply water to the garden. O’Malley said that because the city is providing some of the basic necessities for the project, that will allow the community garden’s organizers to spend the money they raise on setting up a high quality, sustainable garden.

In addition to setting up the garden, the Feed Arma campaign aims to pay for expanding the food pantry at Northeast High School and to establish a new one at the Arma City Library.

O’Malley said in March that produce grown at the community garden would be given away for free to low income residents at the library food pantry, while garden volunteers could take home food at the end of their shifts and community members who can afford to donate to fund the garden or pay for vegetables grown there would also be able to buy them at low cost at the food pantry.

“What’s neat is we’re raising enough money to really have a sustainable garden project,” O’Malley said, but “this garden won’t function without volunteers,” he added.

Following a series of Community Conversations facilitated by Live Well Crawford County that began in late 2018, participating Arma residents decided to pursue the community garden project because “it became clear that this community of 1,400 suffers from poor access to healthy foods,” according to the Feed Arma web page.

“Whether you’re low income or higher income, if you live in Arma you’re still 9 miles away from a tomato,” O’Malley said in March.

The deadline for the Feed Arma fundraiser is May 10. O’Malley said the plan is to get the garden’s first vegetables planted by mid-May so that they are ready to harvest by July 4.

For more information or to donate to support the project, visit https://www.ioby.org/project/feed-arma. To find out more about volunteering with the garden, send an email to feedarma@gmail.com.