The Scraps-to-Soil Idaho Springs Community Garden started its second season on Earth Day.
The gardeners’ primary motivation? The cultivation of community spirit.
The gardeners who showed up the morning of April 22 had different plans for their prospective garden plots: cucumbers, peas, zucchini.
“I garden back home and saw the garden plot (as a place where) I could meet a lot of new people, grow some fresh vegetables, some fresh fruit … and enjoy the weather as well,” said recent Texas-to-Idaho Springs transplant and insurance agent Chad Sanderson.
Carla Cole said she was motivated to start gardening because a family friend with a child the same age as her 3-year-old would be working the plot next to theirs.
“We’re going to try tomatoes and beans. My grandmother used to grow beans all the time, so it reminds me of that. … We might try some cauliflower,” Cole said. “It’s nice to have a little support behind me, too.”
One new addition to the community garden will be markers that let plot renters know how they are doing. One even says, “This spot looks awesome.”
The garden will expand its children’s educational series with elementary school teachers who provide an event in the morning and one in the afternoon every Friday in June and July.
From a weedy plot
to productive soil
The garden was started last year by Scraps-to-Soil co-founders Cameron Marlin, her cousin George Marlin and his wife, Ursula Cruzalegui, who started the organization as a community-focused composting effort in 2009.
Their community garden idea grew with the help of a $10,000 grant from the Clear Creek Metropolitan Recreation District last year. Now, the plots are rented for $50 a year each.
The garden is in the area known as the Idaho Springs Triangle, near where Miner Street and Colorado Boulevard converge. The spot, which at one time consisted of a barren, weed-filled lot, now is host to 34 garden spaces.
A win-win for everyone
“It’s fantastic, and my kids get to watch things grow and plant seeds,” said St. Mary’s resident Erin Johnson, who got started after helping a friend with her plot last year.
“For a patch of ground like this that sat dormant and weedy for years and years, for (Scraps-to-Soil) to come in and do this … it is something for the community to do,” Johnson said. “(And) it is something that the community needs. This town does not have enough stuff like this for people to do, for people to participate in.”
George Marlin said that, in the first year, getting the plots to fill up with motivated would-be gardeners was easy. He said now the trick is duplicating that success while helping people stay involved and motivated throughout the season.
“So we’re searching for that balance, and I think that we’re hoping that we’re there,” Marlin said. “The harder thing than getting the community garden built is keeping it going, keeping the interest and keeping the community engaged over the long term, so that’s our challenge now.”