Fountain getting first community garden

Fountain getting first community garden

Fountain getting first community garden
Posted on 09/07/2017
Fountain Creek Regional Park

An addition to an El Paso County park will help Fountain residents go from farm to table starting in the spring.

County officials are working with Pikes Peak Urban Gardens to build a community garden at Fountain Creek Regional Park, where citizens will be able to lease raised beds to grow their own produce. The garden, slated to open early next year, will likely accommodate about 60 to 70 families, said Larry Stebbins, executive director of the organization.

The Colorado Springs area is home to more than a dozen such gardens, although none are located in Fountain. The plots offer renters and homeowners with little or no land a place to cultivate fruits and vegetables free of herbicides and genetically modified ingredients often found in standard supermarket fare. 

"As far as fresh and healthy food, most people feel they can't beat it," said Stebbins.

Citizens will be able to lease the 4-by-8-foot beds for a relatively low price that includes soil and water. While the rates have yet to be decided, similar sized units start at about $20 annually at the other community gardens that Stebbins' group manages.

The garden will be located south of the Fountain Creek Nature Center, off U.S. 85, and just west of the park's Duckwood playground, Stebbins said.

The communal space will also allow newcomers to learn from veteran gardeners, he added.

"You can see fifty different ways to grow a green bean, and you learn very quickly how to do it right," he said. "It builds community."

When the county conducted a survey as part of the master planning process for the park, a community garden was one of the most requested improvements, said Ross Williams, park planner for the county's Community Services Department. Residents also voiced support for the gardens at a series of public meetings, Williams said.

The organization that manages Bear Creek Regional Park's Charmaine Nymann Community Garden, one of the oldest and largest community gardens in the Pikes Peak region, have seen an increase in demand for the plots. The garden, which includes more than a hundred 20-by-40-foot plots, is at full capacity with a waiting list for next season, said John Poyzer, treasurer of the Bear Creek Garden Association. Some gardeners come from as far as Woodland Park to use the space, he said.

"There's certainly more room for community gardens," Poyzer said.