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Community garden project receives grant funding

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By Sandy Barnes

A long-term dream envisioned by Evergreen resident Rachel Emmer and members of her environmental group is taking root this year.

Essential funds for the community garden project at Buchanan Park are now in place through grants received by Evergreen’s Alliance for Sustainability.

After six years of nurturing the project for EAS+Y, Emmer says she is gratified to see the garden on the verge of becoming a reality.

When the Evergreen Park and Recreation District board approved the project last fall, some members expressed concern about funding for it. 

With the recent approval of a $43,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant, which the park district helped acquire, and $10,000 from the Colorado Home and Garden Show, EAS+Y now has $53,000 in hand to begin the project.

In addition to the grant monies, the organization has received community support, said Emmer.

“We’ve had a generous outpouring from donors and architects and in-kind contributions,” she said. “One of the things I have been delighted to watch is the community spirit … . It has been a fabulous, collaborative experience.”

The garden is sited on a third of an acre at Buchanan Park where raised and traditional beds for growing vegetables and other plants will be available for residents.

A total of 28 full and half plots will be available for residents for an annual fee. 

“We are currently designing a process for plot allocation,” said Emmer. “We do anticipate a wait list.”

Emmer said there will be an element of a lottery in selecting people and that she is hoping to announce that applications are available in the near future.

Before people can begin gardening, there is initial work to be done. Two aging sheds on the property will be rebuilt to allow room for equipment storage and shelter. Using an innovative concept from the Denver urban garden, Emmer said that an irrigation system will be installed.

“One of the things that we’re excited about is that we’re using an alternative to PVC pipes,” said Emmer. Instead, HDPE piping, which is more environmentally friendly, will be placed in the garden area. HDPE has more flexibility than PVC and is made of recycled materials, she said.

The initial stage of the garden project also includes placing an 8-foot-high fence around the garden area to keep out elk. 

Emmer said she is hoping for a May 1 groundbreaking for the garden.

One essential ingredient of the garden project is already in place. At Emmer’s request, the park district agreed to store a compost pile near the garden that will generate materials to enrich the soil. Compost ingredients include wine pressings from Creekside Cellars, brewery waste and alpaca manure. Coffee grounds from local cafes also may be added.

“The garden is not just about growing vegetables, flowers and herbs,” said Emmer. “It’s about growing the community.”

Contact Sandy Barnes sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.