As I ride my bike to work, I can't help but notice the trees lining downtown neighborhoods bursting with pink and white flowers - petals scattering with the wind. Spring is most definitely here! To me Spring means tulips popping up in the front yard, hauling the grill out of the shed for dinners on the deck and prepping the garden beds for another bountiful growing season. Sometimes it's difficult to imagine gardening in the dead of winter, but now that the soils have warmed it's time to start adding compost, turning the soil, watering and getting some seeds in the ground.
Darrin Parmenter with CSU Extension has a weekly article in the Herald on backyard gardening and local food. This week's article titled "Eager to get gardening? Here's what to plant now" has some great suggestions on cool weather crops like peas and lettuces to get your garden started.
If you don't have the space to garden at home, or would like to garden with a community of gardeners of all skill levels and backgrounds, consider applying for one of the few remaining plots at the Ohana Kuleana Community Garden at 564 E. 30th St. below Riverview Elementary, Durango's first "public" use community garden started in 2013. For only $60 per year, you receive 150 sq ft of growing space, irrigation water, free gardening workshops throughout the season and the opportunity to grow your own food alongside other members of the community (discounted rates are available in exchange for extra volunteer hours). The Ohana Kuleana garden, which means "community responsibility" in native Hawaiian, is managed by the local nonprofit, The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado. The Garden Project's mission is to help grow a healthier community through the support and development of school and community garden programs that promote health and wellness, environmental stewardship and a sustainable local food system.
There are lots of ways to get involved with growing healthy food for our community. Every Wednesday The Garden Project hosts a volunteer garden day at the Manna Soup Kitchen garden from 10 to noon led by expert gardeners. Manna is one of the first soup kitchens in the nation to have their own garden that produced vegetables directly for the kitchen and clients. During the summer months our volunteers harvest around 50 lbs of fresh produce from the garden every week!
If you get fired up about kids growing and eating their own healthy food, consider getting involved with the Needham Elementary School garden. In 2013 the Needham garden was expanded from 8 raised beds to 24 - one for each classroom. This Spring students will be planting their beds with local farmers - rather than a field trip to the farm, the farmers are coming to the school to work alongside the students in the garden! Volunteers are needed to help care for beds over the summer months. You can sign up to volunteer for any of our gardens here.
One last thing, before you run outdoors and start turning your garden soil...
Mother's Day is right around the corner, and if you don't have a gift lined up yet, perhaps this is the year to give a gift that's a bit more meaningful. The Garden Project is hosting a Mother's Day Grow A Garden Fundraiser. Here's how it works: Choose gardening items and plants to donate on our website and we'll send your mom a handwritten note letting her know that a donation has been made on her behalf to support school and community gardens in Southwest Colorado. There are lots of options, from kids gardening gloves to bee and butterfly plants to fruit trees. Make this Mother's Day something special, and help Grow a Garden.