Longmont Community Garden to Build More Raised Beds for Seniors
The 35-plot community garden on 11th Avenue in Longmont has a waitlist each year and, with only four raised beds, it’s nearly impossible to gain access to one.
“We currently have four raised garden beds, but they have been consistently spoken for since the garden opened in 2009,” said Megan Reehl, the operations manager for Growing Gardens, the local nonprofit responsible for the community garden on 11th Avenue.
Raised beds are particularly in demand for older gardeners who still want to get dirt under their fingernails without getting kinks and creaks in their aging backs and knees.
“Over the last year I’ve had 10 requests from people who are specifically looking for a raised bed,” Reehl said.
Due to the increasing demand for raised beds, Community Gardens teamed up with Voluntaryism in Action, a nonprofit advocacy group, to raise $1,600 through a GoFundMe account for building four more raised beds. Just 18 days into their 100-day campaign, Growing Gardens and Voluntaryism in Action has raised $720.
“We need at least four more (raised beds),” said Lance Cayko, a contributor with Voluntaryism in Action and the garden leader at the 11th Avenue community garden. “More and more seniors are interested in community gardens as they move from a traditional home into an apartment. Raised beds allow them to sit next to it and more easily maintain their garden because it’s away from the weeds and critters. It’s critical really.”
Want to garden?
Those interested in applying for a space in the community garden, including those interested in raised garden beds, can do so at growinggardens.org .
Rental fees for a raised garden bed measuring 4-by-8-feet is $40 a season. A 10-by-20 plot costs $80 and a 20-by-20 plot costs $120.
Those who qualify as low-income can receive a 50 percent discount. The only requirement for those who are accepted is they volunteer for at least four hours.
For Enid Van De Walker, who has rented a plot at the 11th Avenue community garden since 2010, having access to a raised bed single-handedly allowed her to continue to pursue her passion for gardening and keep her mind active.
“I grew up on a farm and I always liked to eat what I grow, so I’ve been involved with community gardens since 1996 when I sold my home and moved into an apartment without a garden,” Van De Walker said. “I continued until I could no longer crawl around on the ground, but that’s when a raised bed became available the 11th Avenue Community Garden. It fulfills a real special place for me. It gets me out, I get to meet people of all ages and share the old gardening tricks I picked up on the farm.”
Ideally, Cayko said, Growing Garden and Voluntaryism in Action hopes the new beds will provide another five to seven seniors access to the garden.
Should more demand arise, Reehl said, Community Gardens will continue to raise money for as many beds as needed.
“This campaign is definitely step one,” Reehl said. “We can always re-evaluate increased interest and assess building more beds in the future if that’s what people are continually asking for.”
While the community garden is a great way for seniors to stay active outside, it also provides a way for those on fixed incomes to save money by growing their own food.
“I think that the increasing cost of living over the last several years has really motivated people to find a way to grow their own fresh, organic produce at an affordable price,” Reehl said. “This is really close to our mission. We have done a lot in the last couple of years to increase food productivity in Longmont.”
In addition to operating three community gardens in Longmont, Growing Gardens also teaches young kids to garden at the Ed and Ruth Lehman YMCA in Longmont, at which all of the food grown is donated to organizations in the community such as There with Care and the OUR Center. Growing Gardens also donates seeds and plant starts to low-income families, some of whom also use the community gardens due to the reduced rates offered for a plot.
John Spina: 303-473-1389, email@example.com or twitter.com/jsspina24