On the surface – let’s say, at ground level - community gardens are places where people can lease a plot of land at an affordable price to grow food for themselves, their friends and their families. They are an important resource for community members who want to cultivate fresh, organic produce while getting some vitamin D and time outside with nature. In fact, community gardens are an old idea and exist all over the world. In the United States, community gardens’ “roots” can be traced back to the 1890s, when vacant lots in Detroit were turned into growing spaces to answer the need for healthy food during an economic recession. Since then, gardens have popped up in schools, inner cities, and rural areas alike. Today in our own town, Moab Community Gardens (MoCom Gardens) is creating a network of gardening spaces throughout the Moab Valley for the benefit of all area residents. Beginning at the East Bench Road garden in 2018, the group offered 10 plots to individual gardeners, and this year, MoCom Gardens is expanding to three locations with approximately 20 plots of various sizes available to gardeners.
Now digging a little deeper: community gardens offer quite a bit more than just food! They are also the perfect place to connect with neighbors, learn some tomato tricks, and find some quiet time. At community gardens, you’re likely to run into some surprising experts and make new friends, or even find an opportunity to share your new-found onion expertise with some curious kids. These values might be a little less tangible than a juicy cucumber, but certainly make it hard to leave the plot once it has started growing on you.
Zooming out to the greater environment, community gardens also contribute to sustainable ecosystems. Starting with fruit trees and peas blooming in spring, followed by asparagus and herbs, a transition to pepper blossoms, some late-season broccoli flowers, and finally some glorious sunflowers, the native bees, moths, and other insects have a season-long buffet that keep their populations healthy. Under the shade of some zucchini leaves, you might find toads, lizards, and other small wildlife. And gardens also feed what’s below ground when growers gather those end-of-season annual plants into the compost pile that then break down into digestible nutrients for next seasons’ vegetables, invertebrates, and soil microorganisms.
As a whole, community gardens are a pretty appetizing resource for our town, and MoCom Gardens wants to welcome anyone interested to come grow with us in 2020. Folks of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels can apply for a plot of land to use for the season. The plots are available at a sliding cost scale (as little as $5/year with a volunteer commitment), and are spread across three locations: Our Village Community Center at the north end of Moab, east Center Street, and East Bench Road at the south end of the Valley. Even folks who already have their own garden can come see what it’s all about; MoCom Gardens has Community Brunch & Workdays on the third Saturdays of each month, where volunteers gather to enjoy some treats, tunes, and help out with garden maintenance and special projects, such as tending plots for the food bank and building raised beds.
To find out more, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Facebook at Moab Community Gardens. To apply for a 2020 garden plot, fill out the simple form here: bit.ly/mocom-apply