The Manhattan Community Garden began in 1974 with a mini grant from ACTION, coordinated by UFM. The land was purchased by Urban Renewal and was 150 ft from the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. This space was zoned as green space for the next 20 years.
The City and many volunteers cleared the old houses and trees from the site. A local nursery provided a tractor and fertilizer to turn the soil and the City agreed to install water meters and spigots at the site. The City agreed to donate water and a local bank donated seeds for the first year. During that first year, they had 60 plots planted.
A shed was donated by a developmental center and a small grant from Social Rehabilitation Services assisted during the first years. Later, in 2004, a new shed was donated by D&R Construction.
The lease on the two acres of gardening space is held by UFM Community Learning Center and renewed by the City of Manhattan every five years. A new site, Collins Lane, was added in 2012, is leased from Riley County and is open to anyone in the county.
The Manhattan Community Garden is grateful to the Riley County Commission for providing the land, to Howie’s Trash and Recycling Services for providing labor and financial resources to help develop the new site and to the City of Manhattan Parks department for helping develop the second acre at Collins Lane for gardening in 2013.
Currently, the Riley Lane Garden has 132 plots and Collins Lane has 152 plots. A plot renewal is charged on a sliding scale to cover garden expenses.