Gardening season is over in the Laramie Valley, but a group of volunteers has been building the bones of garden in Kiwanis Park this fall with an eye on the promise of spring.
The new community garden is situated on the western side of the West Laramie park, which sits east of Wyoming Highway 130 and north of Linford Elementary. By next summer, organizers envision, about 6,000 square feet will be filled raised beds, walkways and a pollinator garden.
About 20 garden beds will be available to individuals and groups to rent on a yearly basis for growing whatever they’d like. A separate area to be planted with vegetables and fruit will be open for anyone in the community to pick from.
“Even if people don’t want to steward their own plot, they can come and pick the food in the summer,” said Katie Case, an Americorps VISTA volunteer at Feeding Laramie Valley.
Feeding Laramie Valley was able to get the project underway after receiving a $20,000 AARP Community Challenge Grant this summer, according to director Gayle Woodsum. The grants are intended to help communities implement projects right away and have a Nov. 5 deadline for project completion. Feeding Laramie Valley received final approval to break ground from the city in October.
On Tuesday morning beneath gray skies, volunteers and staff members with Feeding Laramie Valley distributed a mound of crushed gravel into sections marked off for walkways. Turf had already been removed from the space, which was surrounded by orange construction fencing.
Two long trenches marked where an irrigation system would be installed to provide water access beside each bed.
Feeding Laramie Valley food production coordinator Reece Owens, while taking a break from shoveling gravel into a wheelbarrow, said the gravel foundation beneath beds and walkways would discourage grass from sprouting.
“Hopefully it’ll keep it all down,” he said.
Groups from around the community — churchgoers, Rotarians, students — are scheduled to make a big push to install raised beds and permanent fencing on Friday and Saturday, and any willing worker is welcome to pitch in.
“We need all the hands that we can get on deck to really finish this job out by the fifth,” Case said.
She said jobs were available for volunteers of all ages and abilities.
“We’d love to see the community come out here and be part of the build,” she said.
Feeding Laramie Valley, which works on projects related to sustainable local food systems and food security, has been working toward a community garden in Kiwanis Park for several years. During a public meeting in 2015, West Laramie residents vocalized support for the opportunity to garden near their homes. An advisory committee of West Laramie residents and gardeners worked on the design while waiting on funding, Woodsum said.
Case said the garden would offer residents more access to nutritious food.
“West Laramie doesn’t even have a grocery store here, so we want to increase the availability of healthy food for people,” she said.
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