Community Gardens

Irene Shonle CSU Extension, Gilpin County.  March brings the official start of spring, and with it, the rising desire for many people to get out and plant something. Some people plant flowers, and others grow food to eat, but not everyone is able to have a garden on their property. Maybe it’s due to a lack of water rights; residential property with wells drilled after May 8 of 1972 with less than 35 acres may not have any outdoor watering rights at all (although we are all now allowed to collect up to 110 gallons off residential roofs). Other people find their soil unworkable or their bedrock too close to the surface.  Others may have no level ground.

If that applies to you, and you’re a Gilpin County resident, consider gardening in the Gilpin Extension Community Garden this year. We have 24 plots (4’x 1’2) for gardeners, and charge $15 for the growing season.  Water is provided from a cistern, and each gardener does their own hand-watering. Gardeners are expected to keep their plots in good order, and to keep weeds down in the pathways. The garden is located on the Fairgrounds, not too far from the Extension Office.

This year will mark the fifth year of the garden, and over the years, we have had many successful plots.  Some have created elaborate cold frames to help them grow plants like tomatoes and squash, and others have raised bountiful crops of vegetables that require less coddling in the mountains, such as peas, lettuce, kale, chard, beets, potatoes, and turnips. Given that we live so far away from grocery stores, it can be a welcome treat to pick your dinner salad fresh each day.

The community garden provides more than just a space to garden – it also provides, well, community. Ginger Baer, a Master Gardener with Gilpin County, and a Community Garden participant, had this to say: “Just after 2 weeks of being in the community garden I find that I am connecting with people I have never met before. Guess what? We have common interests. Conversations flow about gardening techniques and experiences. A few of us have started e-mailing one another with different ideas of what we can do for our gardens. Some people are pulling together, to get some of the weeding done in the common areas.  We are starting to be a community.”

In the spirit of community, we have a hoop bender by the Extension Office where you can bend electric conduit into low hoops (about 3’ tall and 3’ wide) in order to create a low-cost mini-greenhouse or season extender.  It’s free for anyone to use, and will be out and ready to use by Tax Day.

Come grow with us this year!  Applications can be found on the Extension website (url below), or stop by the office – first come, first-served.

The CSU Gilpin County Extension Office is located at the Exhibit Barn, 230 Norton Drive, Black Hawk, CO 80422, 303-582-9106, Colorado State University Extension provides unbiased, research-based information about, horticulture, natural resources, and 4-H youth development. Colorado State University Extension is dedicated to serving all people on an equal and nondiscriminatory basis.