Community Roots | SteamboatToday.com

Community Roots

Annie Martin







Tucked in the alleyway behind Lincoln Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets, a garden blossoms each year and brings together the community around it. The 20 plots in the Roots Community Garden, an initiative guided by the CSU Master Gardener program, are rented out each year by an assortment of families, businesses and groups.

The garden was kickstarted in 2010 by the Leadership Steamboat class, which took advantage of property originally acquired by the county for a new justice center. In 2012, local high school student Garrett Pohlman teamed up with Routt County Maintenance to take it on as his class project, cleaning up the plots and turning it into a well-kept, open-to-the-public oasis in the heart of downtown, complete with picnic tables for lunch.

The plots cost $25 each and are rented on a first-come first-served basis, mostly by locals who either don't have enough space for their own gardening or want to practice under the guidance of Master Gardeners. Groups and businesses also rent them out. Déjà Vu has rented a plot for the past three years but is giving it up this year for hopefuls on the waiting list.

"It's a cool program," says Jen Latham, who headed the Déjà Vu plot before investing in her own this past season. "Everybody's responsible for their own plots, so there's freedom to experiment and grow whatever you want."

Latham grew a multitude of vegetables this past year for her family for $25 plot, which she thinks is an excellent payback. She also says it's a great place for gardeners to meet. "I love running into people there," she says. "It's great to see someone and chit-chat while pulling weeds."

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The garden is also used for teaching gardening classes during the summer through the Steamboat Summer Recreation program. The Master Gardeners have a demo plot as well where they teach classes and grow fruits and vegetables donated to LiftUp.

"It's an awesome opportunity for people who don't have their own place to go," says CSU Extension agent Todd Hagenbuch. "It's their own patch of dirt."

The garden is currently fully booked, with a hefty waiting list. But its success is measured by more than the number of people involved.

"It was a Leadership project, so it was created out of different philosophies from different people," says Hagenbuch. "That's one of the coolest things about it." It also provides its own special kind of therapy. He adds, "Gardening is a wonderful way to connect to nature. It's great for people to get out there, pull some weeds, and see some things crawling."