Gardens raised right

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Spring is planting season, and Lakewood has several community gardens open to residents who want to share their love of gardening.

Gardens are spread throughout the city, from the Ute Trail Garden, 13600 W. Jewell St., to O’Connell Middle School, 1275 S. Teller St., and interest in finding or creating new gardens has been consistently growing over the last several years.

“We became involved with community gardens two or three years ago,” said George Fivgas, enterprise analyst with the community resources department.

“We had residents in the Ute Trail area who were interested in starting a garden, and we wanted to find out how many people were interested in the garden, and what it would require.”

Fivgas and the department reached out to Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), and organization has worked to help communities start gardens since 1985.

When the organization first started, there were three gardens.

Now there are more than 100 in Adams, Arapahoe, Denver and Jefferson Counties.

“Lakewood approached us when their residents were expressing interested in gardens, and they wanted a partner that could help answer questions,” said Shannon Spurlock, community initiatives coordinator with DUG.

The Ute Trail garden was eventually opened and currently has 44 plots with about 50 gardeners.

According to Fivgas, if someone or a group of people is interested in joining or starting a community garden, Lakewood plays an advisory role, connecting the interested parties with DUG and if necessary, helps find landowners who may be interested in allowing a garden on their property.

“The city is not a direct service provider — we work to connect folks,” Fivgas said.

There are certain factors that must be considered when looking for a place to start a community garden ... if there is a readily available water source, plenty of sunshine and quality of the soil.

Getting a garden started is only the beginning of the work.

“It takes a lot of work and organization to a keep a garden viable, and there are some strict regulations,” Fivgas said.

For more information on community gardens contact the Community Resources Department at 303-987-7800 or visit www.dug.org.