Nearly two months after breaking ground on the new community donation garden at St. Philip’s, I am finally taking a breath to share how this project got started. Several years ago, the concept of starting a community garden on the expansive property of our church was conceived by Tiffany Briggs, an active church member that I knew from the Prayer Shawl Knitting group. We discussed it several times and energy began to mount. At the time, I was too busy with my Denver community garden as both a leader and the manager of three plots, to invest much energy in another project. Fast forward several years, Tiffany had moved away and I was finally retired from eight years as a leader at Rosedale Garden. With a chunk of time and psychic space now free in my life, the conversation about the garden began again. A church member and friend on the board encouraged me to get a proposal together and apply for a grant from the church endowment committee. She felt that the time was right, internal support was present and that with me to champion the project, it could fly.
Bringing over 18 years of community garden experience as well as my training as a master gardener to the table helped me to put together a coherent, clear-sighted proposal very quickly. The thought of speadheading a new garden project that would initially provide locally grown produce to the Sheridan Food Bank was exciting and challenging. The first hurdle was to get agreement from the property committee to work a specific 30 ft X 60 ft site in the back of the church. After several rounds of maps, walking the property and even a presentation given by my husband who sits on the committee, the land was approved by the property committee. The second step was to obtain funding for soil admendments, raised beds, seedlings, and all the other various items one needs to start a garden. I submitted a proposal for $1500 in late April and received notification on May 10 that a grant of $1000 was approved. The Care and Compassion Committee also donated $250 to the project.
With little time to waste but out of town from May 10-17 to attend my 30th college reunion in Massachusetts, I scheduled ground breaking for May 24. I wrangled a handful of volunteers including my husband, children and my church supporter and her family to get started on that Sunday morning. Dave and I opened up Home Depot at 7 am to purchase the wood for 8 raised beds and by 3 pm, he had them all built. The unusually rainy May had softened the ground and enabled the rest of the crew to dig out the normally concrete hard sod over the course of the next two weeks. After Xcel Energy mapped out the areas with buried electricals, we placed the raised beds over those areas and decided to plow the unaffected areas later in the season. By May 29th, two trucks of garden mix were delivered and everyone I could recruit including my 10 and 13 year old boys helped fill in the raised beds.
By early June, we had eight raised beds filled and planted with seeds, purchased and donated plants. And several weeks later, we rototilled a 12 X 15 foot patch and planted it with donated plants from Creekside Gardens and Denver Urban Gardens. At the time of this writing, the garden is healthy and ready to burst with broccoli, lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, herbs, squashes, cucumbers and more. We’ve already donated several pounds of lettuce, squash and herbs to the Sheridan Food Pantry with much more to follow this week. God has truly shined upon this project with good weather, few pests and generous volunteers and contributions.
I will share much more about our new donation garden and future plans in the weeks to come.