Park board member questions selection process for community garden

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By Sandy Barnes

“I think what you’ve created is really terrific,” said Evergreen Park and Recreation District board member Janet Heck Doyle after hearing an annual report on the community garden at Buchanan Park at the board's April 22 meeting.

In her report to the park board, Rachel Emmer of Evergreen’s Alliance for Sustainability described the success of the garden, which took years to come to fruition. Emmer said 44 plots were awarded to gardeners through a lottery that was held last spring.

After commending Emmer on the garden project, Doyle said she'd heard complaints about the permanence of the selection process for gardeners.

“A number of people are upset that there is not a lottery every year,” Doyle said. “Some people do not think the method of choosing is fair.”

“Grandfathering is considered the best community practice,” Emmer replied. 

Because it takes time to establish a garden plot, yearly turnover in gardeners would not be advisable, she added.

Emmer also said that 11 plots have been turned over to the wait list, which is three years long.

Doyle asked about the possibility of expanding the community garden project to other areas to create additional opportunities for residents interested in participating.

“A future garden is a possibility,” said Terry Walters, EAS+Y president. “But we’re still building this one. It’s something that EAS+Y is taking up in the future.”

During her presentation, Emmer talked about a recently built pavilion at the community garden that will offer opportunities for educational programs about gardening. As much salvaged material as possible was used to build the pavilion and a shed for tool storage, she explained.

“A tremendous community effort was involved in the project,” she said. “We had lots of volunteers. Boy Scouts removed nails from wood we were using.”

Among gardeners with plots are special-needs youngsters and those representing organizations such as Evergreen Christian Outreach and the Evergreen Rotary Club, which donate vegetables they grow to food banks, Emmer said.

Funding for the community garden project came through a Great Outdoors Colorado grant, as well a contribution from the Colorado Home and Garden Show, Emmer said.

The project also received about $30,000 in in-kind contributions from local businesses, she added.

To sustain the garden and cover ongoing expenses, an annual fee is charged for the plots. Funds from the plot fees are kept in a designated account of EAS+Y, Emmer explained.

During her remarks, Emmer emphasized the collaborative effort involved in creating the garden, which included the support of the park district.

“From the get-go, it was a community effort,” Emmer said. “It’s really exceeded our expectations.”

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com.