Community garden in full bloom


Erin Mullins

Shannon Bentz, adjunct psychology professor and community garden coordinator, stands in one of the community gardens.

As April showers bring May flowers, they also bring vegetables and herbs to many gardens across the country, and some right here in our own community.

The Northern Kentucky Community Garden is a “conglomerate of…garden sites operated by Asbury United Methodist Church, the City of Highland Heights, Northern Kentucky University, and the Campbell County Cooperative Extension Office,” according to the NKU Wellness website.

The garden plots are currently free of charge to the public and anyone interested can request a 10×10 plot to use and maintain.


Construction equals change

The NKU site, originally located near Callahan Hall, has been deemed “unsafe and unusable” due to the construction on the Lakeside Terrace building, also according to the Wellness website, efforts are being made to find a replacement location.

The community gardens two other locations are located near the Asbury United Methodist Church and near the Highland Heights City building with one additional site specifically for the College of Informatics outside of Griffin Hall.

Liz Kauffman, Cold Spring, has been using her Callahan plot for the last three years and was looking forward to another successful year when she discovered the garden would be inaccessible this season.

“I drove over there and it was like, ‘whoops!’” Kauffman said. “There’s chain link fencing everywhere and it’s like, ‘Oh goodness. This is not happening.’”

Kauffman said she would have liked to have received some advanced notice about the closing of the Callahan garden site because she had planted herbs that come back every year that she could have dug up and potted.

“I [planted] some daffodils…last November so we could have some spring flowers and I managed to pick them right before we got locked out,” Kauffman said.

Shannon Bentz, adjunct psychology professor at NKU, is the community garden coordinator and said he knows some people are upset by the change because of all the time they’ve put into preparing their plots and they are working on a solution.


Benefits to gardening

Bentz, who has been gardening for the last 16 years, said that gardening is a, “unique opportunity to help people make a positive change.”

“There’s so much good to be had from gardening and not all, and sometimes not even most of it, is stuff that you get from the soil,” Bentz said.

Bentz said gardeners can reap “physical, emotional and spiritual” benefits.

“I mean, taking a little bitty thing that looks like it’s dead and consigning it to the soil and expecting something glorious to happen, if that doesn’t have gospel written all over it, I don’t know what does,” Bentz said. “Those are real durable changes in one’s lifestyle.”

Another benefit is economical because growing your own food is cheap.

Kauffman said, “Everybody’s on a budget,” and that gardening is a “really inexpensive way to have a lot of good food.”

“It is so much fun to watch stuff grow and then when it’s done, go and pick, like, fresh carrots or whatever you feel like cooking,” Kauffman said.

Terri Turner, horticulture technician with the Campbell County Cooperative Extension Service, said gardening is a type of relaxation for her.

“Some people have different hobbies. Mine is gardening,” Turner said. “After a hard day of work, to be able to go out and work in the garden, it’s sort of a therapy.”

Turner also said that gardening is a “bonding experience.”

“[You] get to have conversations and share experiences about what plants are doing well and which plants aren’t and even sharing with somebody,” Turner said. “Sharing ideas, getting information, and sharing gardening advice with each other.”

Kauffman agrees and said, “There’s some really nice people out there and we enjoy talking and we share stuff and help each other.”

“It’s a very positive experience and I would certainly encourage anybody at the university to try,” Kauffman said. “It’s not hard. It does take a little work…but once it’s planted and going…it’s kind of fun.”

“If you’ve never done it, just jump in and try it,” Kauffman said.

Contact Shannon Bentz at or visit for more information.