Grand County group plants seed for idea of community gardens in all county towns | SkyHiNews.com

Grand County group plants seed for idea of community gardens in all county towns

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

To plant a seed and watch it grow into something fresh and edible ” fewer people than ever in today’s hyper tech-generated way of life can ever really know what it is to sit down to a table of vegetables nurtured with one’s own hands.

As many as four million farms have disappeared in the United States during the last 50 years, according to a report from http://www.worldhungeryear.org.

“Farm bankruptcies, foreclosures and forced evictions are everyday news. Since they form less than 2 percent of the population, farmers as a category are no longer included in the U.S. census. The 2002 census of agriculture from the USDA showed a small rise in the number of farms to 2.128 million, yet today farmers over 65 outnumber those under 35 by more than two to one. Farmers face unsustainable levels of debt. Mid-sized farms, especially, are threatened with disappearance in one or two decades unless policies change.”

It’s a notion that incites fear in Carol Morales, who with second-generation farmer Joe Morales, scratches a living from fresh produce grown at Granby’s Morales Farms.

The fact that just a handful of food growers worldwide ” with family-farm growers in a decline ” provides sustenance to the entire world is a thought so upsetting it brings tears to Morales’ eyes.

To her and others with the same passion, watching the earth turn out a harvest is as sacred as life itself.

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Passing on this rich connection and “planting a seed in the minds of children to inspire future farmers and growers” are reasons Morales, Lynn Cassidy of Kremmling and other interested growers are starting up Grand Community Gardens this spring.

It provides a chance for everyone and anyone to grow a garden that produces vegetables, herbs and flowers, and in the meantime, share in the unison of community.

The group is seeking nonprofit status and is applying for a grant through the Grand Foundation to get a boost for its first year. Nevertheless, plans have solidified to the point that the program is expected to grow like a beanstalk, starting this spring and summer.

To start, the group is ready to create French intensive raised beds at three different sites: the Granby Morales Farm site, the Hot Sulphur Springs Community Church site and the town of Kremmling site.

“It’s a place where (community members) will be able to share their skills and knowledge and help each other learn how to produce their own foods in their backyards, schools or at the community gardens,” Morales said, “to help teach our children to become self-reliant and self-sufficient. The goal of our group has expanded beyond the scope of gardening and growing vegetables; we are teaching a lifestyle.”

Plans for sites in Tabernash and Fraser are also in the works.

“One of our goals is to be one of the only counties in the state that will have community gardens in every town,” Morales said.

French intensive raised garden beds are considered among the most efficient and effective ways to grow produce. Such beds planned for the Grand County sites are sized 4 feet by 16 feet.

According to community garden organizers, many varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers can grow in Grand County’s high country, and inexperienced participants will have access to information on how to garden and what grows most successfully.

Each plot will have a fee of $20 per month, which will include construction of the bed, dirt, seed, water and necessary gardening tools.

The community garden sites also will have a greenhouse for more sensitive flowers and produce, such as for growing baby tomatoes.

But for those who can’t afford it, there is a way to garden without the cost.

“The ‘Adopt-a-plot’ campaign is also part of the project and can help low-income families and nonprofit groups raise food with the help of generous donors,” said Cassidy, president of the organization. Those who want to support the cause can buy a plot for the season and allow the less fortunate not only manage it but also reap its benefits.

Excess food grown from any of the beds can be donated to the senior centers in Grand County, according to organizers, and flowers grown in special beds will not only serve to beautify the sites, but can be sold at the Granby Farmer’s Market as a fundraiser for the organization.

Selling produce harvested from the beds to the public, however, will be off limits.

Morales, Cassidy and Brent Christian, vice president, are hoping youth organizations take up the opportunity to introduce gardening to young people through the community gardens as part of summertime activities.

Not only is it a chance for communities to get together, Christian said, but it offers the lesson that “food doesn’t just come from the supermarket.”

Anyone is welcome to one of the informational meetings about the first Grand Community Gardens, set for 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thursday, April 17, at the Mountain Parks Electric Meeting room; 6 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 18, at the West Grand K-8 Community Room; and 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 19, at the Hot Sulphur Springs Town Hall.

The Ace Hardware stores of Fraser, Granby and Kremmling have joined in the community effort, and various businesses have come aboard to donate supplies and services.

For items still needed to fulfill gardening goals, each Ace store has available a registry list of Grand Community Garden tools and materials, for those who wish to donate something.

And, to freshen up on gardening tips and how-tos throughout the month of May, the organization has scheduled one-and-one-half hour classes (by donation only as a fundraising effort for the organization) starting at 9 a.m. during the following days at the following locations: Saturday, May 3, at Granby Morales Farms; Saturday, May 17, at Granby’s Country Ace Hardware; Saturday, May 24, at both Fraser Valley Ace Hardware and at Kremmling Tri River Ace Hardware; and Monday, May 26, (Memorial Day) at Granby’s Cold Springs Green House.

For any questions, contact either Carol Morales at 887-3621 or Lynn Cassidy at 725-3636.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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