Aging Well: Local gardens offer chance to learn, grow with others

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Community gardens

■ Steamboat: The Community Roots Garden, located at 629 Oak St., will have 16, 4-foot-by-6-foot raised garden plots available to groups and individuals. Applications will be available March 3 through March 19 online at rcextension.colostate.edu and at the Routt County Extension office, 136 Sixth St. in the Courthouse Annex.

Garden plots will be assigned on a first come, first served basis. A $25 fee per plot will be required to help pay water costs. CSU Master Gardeners will provide ongoing classes and guidance. Organizers are seeking volunteers to help build plots and maintain common areas, sponsors to help purchase tools, bike racks, benches and other materials and donations of tools. For more information, call Meagan Coates at 875-7003.

■ Oak Creek: A community garden is planned on land near downtown Oak Creek. Organizers are seeking volunteers to help prepare the site and maintain a plot for hunger, as well as individuals and groups interested in maintaining their own plots throughout the summer. An organizational potluck will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 9 at the Mugshot Coffee Shop. Appetizers are appreciated. For more information about the potluck or garden, call Lynne Paschal at 819-6533.

■ Hayden: The Hayden Garden Club will be working with Ute ethno botanist

Kessley LaRose to build a community garden focused on native plants and growing methods at The Haven Assisted Living Center and Community Center. All residents interested in learning about growing native plants of many types are encouraged to participate. For more information, call Ann Daugherty at 276-2167.

Snow blankets the ground, but plans for community gardens are sprouting up throughout Routt County.

Having fresh affordable produce to eat, relieving stress and getting exercise while planting, weeding, watering and harvesting healthy food are among the many reasons gardeners develop green thumbs.

Unfortunately, the time, expense, work, space and knowledge needed to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and other plants present barriers to many older adults and other would-be gardeners.

Community gardens, through the collective effort of many participants with different skills and abilities, overcome many of these challenges while providing ongoing support and social opportunities.

Such gardens soon will be a reality in several local communities that finally have the pieces in place to create this vision.

Steamboat

In Steamboat, the 2010 Leadership Steamboat class — an annual leadership training program composed of local professionals — and the Routt County Cooperative Extension Office are partnering to create the Community Roots Garden downtown.

With a grant from the nonprofit LiveWell Colorado organization, the Leadership Steamboat class is organizing guidelines, policies and other aspects of the garden, located on county-owned land along Oak Street.

The extension office, which will be assisting participants with ongoing education from experienced master gardeners, will oversee the garden once the Leadership Steamboat project is complete in May.

“We are really passionate about local food and healthy eating,” said Caitlyn McKenzie, who is co-chairing the Leadership Steamboat project this year.

The class envisions a variety of groups, families and individuals from all ages and backgrounds participating in the garden. The garden will feature raised bed plots and handicap-accessible pathways, making it user-friendly to older adults and others with physical limitations.

Building garden plots, maintaining common space, cleaning up in the fall and serving on a board of directors are among the many volunteer options available to individuals and groups who would like to participate but may not be interested in maintaining their own plot or are not able to secure a plot.

If the garden is successful, it may continue next year and be expanded, McKenzie said.

For more information about the Community Roots Garden, including an application for a plot and a rendering of the garden layout, visit rcextension.colostate.edu.

Oak Creek

A group of individuals in Oak Creek also secured a LiveWell grant to realize their hopes for a community garden on a parcel of city-owned land north of the ice rink.

The grant will help pay for a fence, raised garden beds and supplies needed to carry water to the plots, said Lynne Paschal, who is helping lead the effort.

In addition to having garden plots for groups and individuals, organizers also will raise produce for local nonprofit organizations on a “plot for hunger.” The group is seeking volunteers interested in maintaining this plot and garden grounds, as well as experienced gardeners to provide guidance to beginners.

“It’s going to be a great learning experience for everybody,” Paschal said.

The group will be holding an organizational potluck March 9 for potential volunteers and groups interested in plots.

Hayden

A trip to the Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Center in Meeker in the fall inspired members of the Hayden Garden Club to plan a community garden at The Haven Assisted Living Center and Community Center.

Members attended a presentation by Kessley LaRose, a Ute Indian and ethno botanist who is focused on preserving knowledge of native plants grown and used by his tribe.

LaRose offered to assist the Hayden Garden Club in producing a community garden aimed at teaching interested residents about these plants and growing methods.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to keep almost forgotten wisdom alive, pass it on to the next generation and take another big step toward self-reliance,” garden club member Ann Daugherty said.

The garden is in the early planning stages and likely will need volunteers as well as individuals interested in maintaining plots. For more information, call Daugherty at 276-2167.

— Tamera Manzanares writes for the Aging Well program and can be reached at tmanzanares@nwcovna.org. Aging Well, a division of Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, is a community-based program of healthy aging for adults 50 and older. For more information, visit www.agingwelltoday.com or call 871-7676.

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