Community Garden Wrap-Up

ivy
Welp, this is the last official week of the 2015 community garden season – Closing Day is Saturday, October 24. Despite an early start to the growing season this year, it still seemed to fly by (although I’m still playing a game of chicken with our first hard frost. I think I can still get one more week out of my tomatoes…).

2015 was a great season that really put the “community” in community gardening:

We built a brand new garden, with lots of help from Nature’s Best landscaping company, in the Rose Park/Slant Street neighborhood that was so popular it still has a waiting list! Read more about it here.

IMG_0122

Gardeners digging into their Ivy St plots for the first time!

The Providence Garden now has a whole year under its belt. More and more St. Pat’s patients and staff were able to use the garden as a therapeutic space, and we donated over 1,200 pounds of produce harvested from the garden to the Food Bank. We even had a garden party to celebrate!

IMG_0325

Leadership committee members mingled and learned about other gardens during two community garden tours.

Photo by Brian Herbel

Fellow community gardeners and two of our neighborhood farmers shared their knowledge about garden planning, tomatoes (here and here), herbs, pest management, and cooking delicious meals.

Briam Roasted Veggies topped with beet caviar

Lots of corn, potatoes, squash, raspberries and strawberries were communally maintained and harvested from community plots. (There are also rumors of gardeners growing 500 pounds of produce between two garden plots.)

Photo by Brian Herbel

Perhaps most importantly, over 350 Missoulians were able to grow their own food in community garden plots around Missoula, and hopefully they learned something new, had fun, and made friends while doing it!

Northside gardeners, post potato-digging. Photo by Brian Herbel

Amidst these great happenings, we still had the usual unpleasant smattering of vegetable theft, vandalism, and unrelenting weeds. It’s always hard to see the fruits of your labor smashed, disappear, or be smothered by the infamous bindweed and purslane. Sometimes fences, timely harvests, gardener presence and garden signs just aren’t enough. If you have any tips on ways to further prevent these unpleasant occurrences, please do share! After all, overcoming these struggles together is part of what makes communities of gardeners stronger.

This was my first season working as the community gardens volunteer coordinator, and it will also be my last. I’m quite sad to be leaving such a great organization and program, but at the same time I’m excited to start a new position as the Food Access Program Coordinator with the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition. I’ll be working on ways to improve the accessibility and affordability of local foods for community members with low incomes. I had a great summer getting to know and work with leadership committee members and gardeners, and look forward to seeing you all around town!

Before we officially close down the season, all of our leadership committee members, garden mentors, and community gardeners deserve a huge THANK YOU for all your hard work in making this another successful year.  (That doesn’t quite  do it, but hopefully you feel the love and appreciation!)

Here’s to a great season in 2015 and even more bountiful gardens in 2016!

IMG_0385