On a chilly Saturday afternoon, Rachel Emmer walks briskly across a large, smooth field in Buchanan Park where vegetables and other plants will be growing in the not-too-distant future.
“We’re so excited to be at this stage,” Emmer said about the long-range community garden project.
After six years of planning, Emmer, interim executive director of Evergreen’s Alliance for Sustainability, and others involved in the project are finally seeing the garden take shape.
Depending on the weather, gardeners could begin planting seeds and seedlings in their plots the third week of May, said Emmer.
While Emmer shows the design for the plots in the garden, EAS+Y volunteers work on a wooden structure that will serve as the gardening shed.
Volunteer Dave Lystrom, whom Emmer calls “chief orchestrator of construction,” is supervising the project. He and others are using salvaged lumber taken from two old buildings that were part of the historic Fahnensteil homestead.
“We used as much as possible from an old shed and chicken coop,” said Emmer.
Nestled in a grove of trees are other neatly stacked pieces of lumber that will be used to define the plots in the one-third-acre garden.
Because of high interest in the community project, Emmer coordinated a lottery in which participants were selected for full and half-plots. A few of the plots are designated for area service organizations, including Evergreen Christian Outreach, which provides food to needy people.
A special-needs class at Evergreen High School and students at Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen also have plots in the community garden.
Before planting can begin, the soil needs tilling, and rocks must be removed. Compost will be added to the soil to enrich it.
Other essential additions will be a high fence around the garden to keep out elk and other large wildlife, along with an underground gopher and vole barrier.
The irrigation system for the garden is in place. Esco construction put in the water main, and the Evergreen Metropolitan District provided taps at a reduced rate, Emmer noted.
“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, has been placed in the garden. HDPE has more flexibility than PVC and is made of recycled materials, she said.
Emmer said she is gratified to see the garden becoming a reality this spring. Before the project could begin, it required approval from the Evergreen Park and Recreation District and essential funding.
After extensive review, EPRD board members approved the project last fall. EAS+Y also received a $43,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant with assistance from the park district, and another $10,000 from the Colorado Home and Garden Show.
In addition to the grant monies, EAS+Y has benefited from significant community support, said Emmer.
“We’ve had a generous outpouring from donors and architects and in-kind contributions,” she said.
Spalding Trees recently moved a Douglas fir tree from the garden area to another location, she noted
Emmer is planning a celebration of the community garden on June 1 — when tender plants may be emerging from the ground, if Mother Nature provides enough warmth and sunshine.
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