Crossing the street to get to know his neighbors, Austin Dey soon found more than friendship.
Living on Jefferson City's near east side to be near his employer, the young professional was eager to get his hands into a garden.
His neighbors at the Dulle-Hamilton Towers had a stretch of 100-foot raised bed overlooking the Missouri River bluff. After acquiring permission from the Housing Authority, a community garden was born.
"It's amazing how much we have in common," Dey said.
Steve Evans already had green beans and gladiolas planted there. Larry McArthur and a small group of residents joined him. Donated plants and seeds were soon helping to fill the bed.
Dey also has been inviting other young professionals living across State Street. Rachel Rosen and Sara Amick have found a fun place to spend time with friends and be involved with an outdoor activity.
"It's the highlight of my week, when I come over here," Rosen said. "It's nice to know your neighbors.
Tiny watermelons, ripe tomatoes and future jalapenos are in the bed. They also have corn, pumpkins, beets, radishes, lettuce and sunflowers.
"By the end of August, everything will be ready to pick," McArthur said.
Larry faithfully waters the beds from his wheelchair every morning just as the sun comes up.
"I'm getting into this," McArthur said.
Putting a few minutes each day into the garden helps Evans to keep busy, he said.
"I like to watch things grow," Evans said. "And, hopefully I'll get a bite to eat out of it."
For Rachel Rosen, this is her introduction to a garden, and she has been fascinated.
At first, Dey's invitation to help in the community garden met her need to get to know people, since she recently moved and she thought it would be a good act of service.
"This was a fun way to get outside and meet people, though I'd never gardened before," Rachel said.
With encouragement from her garden community, Rachel even put out a few potted plants at home.
Otherwise, "I would have killed them by now," Rachel said.
Colleen Williams shared her artistic talents to create the Hamilton-Dulle Community Garden sign.
The rolling hills may look similar to Jefferson City centuries ago and the rows of produce show that different things can work well together, Colleen said.
"It looks like a beautiful place to be," she said. "Like us, we're all different, but we're in this together."
Working the once-abandoned garden soil will be much easier next year, they agreed.
"Hopefully this is not a one-season thing," McArthur said.