Lone Tree weighs community garden

City seeks resident input before taking next steps

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Lone Tree might join the growing trend of community gardening. The city wants to know if its residents support the idea, and recently posted a survey asking for input.

But establishing a garden will take far more than getting a thumbs-up from the residents.

“The roadblocks we’ve come up against are water taps are anywhere from $25,000 up,” said City Councilmember Kim Monson. “And land, where can we procure that? How close can we have parking? How do the neighbors feel about it?

“This (survey) is really the first component. Before we jump through all kinds of hoops, we want to find out if people are interested.”

Lone Tree resident Jim Britt believes they are. His father, who recently moved in with Britt, was an avid gardener in a Denver community garden who recently got a spot in Highlands Ranch’s Cheese Ranch community garden. Based on his father’s passion, Britt asked the city council to consider adding the amenity in Lone Tree.

“Lone Tree, I think, is a mature enough city where it would be good to at least put a toe in that water,” Britt said. “I think there’s a desire. It can be kind of a community focal point, people who have a common interest coming together.”

Council members voiced general support for the concept, which has come up several times in recent years.

Highlands Ranch’s three community gardens are so popular, the metro district that manages them has a waiting list for would-be gardeners.

The first garden there, also triggered by community demand, opened in 1998.

“We have a lot of people that return year in and year out,” said Nick Adamson, the district’s open space supervisor. “People seem to really enjoy it.”

The metro district ties into existing adjacent park lines for water to serve its community gardens. It also charges a seasonal fee of $45 for residents and $52 for non-residents to use a 10-by-20-foot plot. That money makes up for most of the district’s costs.

“After you factor in maintenance and so forth, I think it’s a wash,” Adamson said.

But money is not the motivating factor for either the metro district or those who use the gardens.

Acres Green resident Karli Morton’s densely packed Cheese Ranch plot includes about 10 vegetable varieties, but she can’t say with certainty the produce lowers her grocery bill.

“I have to be working the soil,” she said. “I have to be close to the earth.”

But she would much rather do so in Lone Tree.

“I would very much be in support of a community garden,” Morton said.

Britt thinks an area behind Eagle Ridge Elementary might be ideal for a community garden. Councilmembers also suggested RidgeGate’s Schweiger Ranch among the potential sites.

The American Community Gardening Association estimates that 18,000 community gardens are growing throughout the United States and Canada.

A recent University of Utah report shows people who participate in community gardening have a significantly lower body mass index and less chance of being overweight or obese than non-gardeners.

Lone Tree is accepting input until July 24. To take the online survey, visit www.cityoflonetree.com/communitygardensurvey.

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