Community gardening is more than a chance for Anna Akes to socialize with her neighbors in Thornton and grow her own produce. It’s also an opportunity to educate her small grandchildren.
“They learn things just don’t come from the grocery store, they come from the ground,” Akes said.
Akes’ garden is on one of the 42 10-by-13 plots at the new Mapleton Public Schools Community Garden at Skyview Campus.
Mapleton Public Schools paid for the removal of the asphalt, leveling of the area and building of the garden, said Whei Wong, chief communication officer with the district.
The garden takes up about 6,000 square feet of the campus’s back parking lot. Twelve of the plots are reserved specifically for Mapleton schools that want to participate, and the rest are open to Mapleton Public School residents.
“We are trying to rebuild community,” said Superintendent Charlotte Ciancio. “Our new campus will provide a lot of opportunities for community members to come back to be part of our students’ lives and our school district life. It’s always been a value for us.”
A few months ago, resident Michael Miller, approached the district for help when he and his co-gardeners lost their community garden at the United Methodist Church.
“I knew the food bank moved on the campus, and we were looking for a home too, so I contacted Ciancio,” Miller said.
The Thornton Food Bank is now housed in the district’s former vocational/tech building, which is adjacent to the community garden.
“It was important that we provided that space because that resource is very important to our community,” Ciancio said. “The space the Thornton Food Bank is housed in was no longer appropriate as a classroom. We prioritized the use of the space to help meet our community’s needs.”
Miller added: “Some of this produce here will go to the food bank, so it’s convenient to be right next to it.”
Ed Scofield, of Thornton, has already planted corn, carrots, three kinds of beans, watermelon and cantaloupe. He said he will give half of his food to the bank. He likes the community garden, he said, because it is a great hobby.
“We work when we can and usually get good crops out of them,” he said.
Miller praised the school district for installing the garden and the city of Thornton for footing the water bill. The city is paying the water bill out of its parks and forestry divisions budget, according to Todd Barnes, communications manager for the city. He said that Keep Thornton Beautiful will offer rebates on tools and materials including compost, seed and stakes.
Miller said other donations for the community garden are appreciated.
“We desperately need donations for trees. We need shade,” he said.
If you are interested in donating or reserving a plot at the community garden, contact Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.