Green thumbs get ready! City to open new community gardenFeb 23, 2022 07:27PM ● By Bill Hardesty
Future home of the Fitts Park Community Garden coming in spring 2022. (Courtesy of SSL)
By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]
For those who appreciate the taste of a homegrown tomato, but don’t have their own garden patch, this year may be their chance to grow one in a new neighborhood garden.
South Salt Lake Department of Neighborhoods is creating a community garden across from Front Avenue on 400 East (3065 S. 400 East). The spot is south of Fitts Park.
The planning started last August with a public outreach campaign to determine public interest.
"The number of those willing to volunteer, organize, and potentially lease a garden plot and community partnerships were considerable," said Jen Hill, public outreach coordinator of SSL.
It was important to show public interest so that SSL could get a grant from Wasatch Community Gardens (WCG), which they received this year.
"I'm excited to announce that your garden application has been tentatively accepted," Giles Larsen, Parks for Produce program manager with Wasatch Community Gardens, wrote. "Very nice work! I'm impressed by the very quick turnaround on collecting signatures, the diversity of organizations that SSL works with, and the degree to which the community appears excited about this project!"
Since receiving the grant, city staff have held virtual public organizational and design meetings. In addition, they have received input from community members and guidance from Sharen Hauri, director of the SSL Department of Neighborhoods, Giles from WCG, and a landscape architect from VODA Landscape + Planning, Mike Morris.
"Moving forward, we hope to have the garden planting ready for gardeners by May of 2022. We are now in the process of its organization and design, including the vision statement and a new name," Hauri said.
The plan is to ask community volunteers to break the ground in April. After that, the hope is to start building beds and getting ready for the 2022 growing season.
"If members of the community are interested in being part of the process or to lease a garden plot, all are welcome," Hill said.
For more information, connect with the SSL Department of Neighborhoods at 801-464-6757 or [email protected].
Fitts Community Garden vs. Central Park Community Garden
This new community garden is different than the community garden at Central Park. The Central Park Community Garden is sponsored by the New Roots Initiative, a program of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in conjunction with Wasatch Community Gardens.
This type of community garden is located in Central Park and a larger one at the Central Valley Reclamation Facility on the city's west side.
The focus of these gardens is to provide an area for refugees to grow fresh produce and, more importantly, produce they are familiar with.
On the other hand, the new Fitts Park community garden is open to all SSL residents.
WCG and the Parks for Produce program
The Wasatch Community Gardens is a nonprofit organization. Since 1989, the organization has provided access to land and education for growing for children, adults and families.
Their mission statement is simple: "Empowering people to grow and eat healthy, organic, local food."
The organization fulfills its mission through four main programs: Community Garden, Community Education, Youth and School Garden, and Job Training programs.
Within the Community Garden program is a joint indicative of WCG and Salt Lake County. The program is called Parks for Produce. The program's focus is to turn some of the land of parks into community gardens. The WCG is well organized and supplies a Parks for Produce manual, which takes the community garden from a concept to reality. It also provides rules to help support the garden.
WCG's additional resource is a variety of workshops and webinars on using effective garden techniques to plant suitable crops for the Wasatch Front. They also provide garden coaching sessions most Wednesdays from March through August via Facebook Live. Check their website (www.wasatchgardens.org) for details.