Community garden ready to sprout in Fraser
April 1, 2011
With a growing trend toward local, organic produce, vegetable gardening has seen a resurgence in recent years. But, not everybody has the right space for a garden at their house.
With that in mind, Grand County Community Gardens, in partnership with the Colorado State University Extension Office in Kremmling, offers some of the highest altitude community vegetable gardens in Colorado, providing Grand County residents with the space and opportunity for learning how to grow their own food and become a more sustainable community.
“Gardens provide an educational platform for teaching good nutrition and knowing the source of your own food,” said CSU County Extension Director Travis Hoesli. “Kids who are involved in gardening are more likely to engage in eating more vegetables.”
“Gardening also provides an alternative physical activity and positive social outlet for people of all ages,” added Debbie Buhayar, secretary of the board of Grand Community Gardens.
Grand Community Gardens was started in 2008 by Carol Morales of Morales Farms in Granby. With grants from the Grand Foundation and support from the county and the towns of Hot Sulphur Springs and Granby, the project installed 20 beds in Kremmling, 20 beds in Hot Sulphur Springs and 28 beds in Granby. Community members rent sites, which come with prepared soil, covers, irrigation and fencing.
The county and towns provide the space and the water for the gardens while the CSU Extension Office joined the project in 2010, providing administrative support, funding and educational resources in addition to insurance.
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“These gardens have proven to be an asset to our communities,” Buhayar said.
Now in its fourth season, the project is hoping to add a community garden site in the Fraser Valley. Grand Community Gardens has partnered with the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District to provide up to 40 irrigated, raised beds at the Fraser Valley Sports Complex.
“All along I’ve had an inkling that Fraser was interested in having this,” Buhayar said. “There’s quite a few of us that drive to Granby.”
“The biggest challenge is funding,” Buhayar added. “People want to help … people have offered to provide labor, but we need dollars for fencing, irrigation and materials to build beds.”
Buhayar is estimating start-up costs in the neighborhood of $50,000, including the irrigation system, recycled plastic bed boxes, covers, dirt, landscaping and fencing.
Future plans also call for a hoop house, a native demonstration garden and an educational center.
Plots will rent for $80 the first year to help pay for soils and new, water-saving irrigation technology.
More than 60 different kinds of vegetables thrive in Grand County, including all kinds of lettuce, potatoes, carrots, spinach, root vegetables, peas and herbs.
In a standard 4-by-16-foot site, “You can grow more than your family can eat over the summer,” Buhayar said. “I am still eating vegetables that I grew last summer.”
CSU is offering three classes this spring on April 9 and 16 and May 14, with sessions each day in Fraser and Granby covering a variety of topics from seed selection and garden management to produce harvesting. The classes are offered for free as part of the extension’s outreach.
For more information about the classes, call the CSU Extension Office at 724-3436 or visit grandcommunitygardens.org.
To get involved or donate to the Fraser Community Garden project, call 726-5143.
– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.