Community garden site assessment

Community gardens can make a significant enrichment to the community of Baker.

Posted September 28, 2012

Submitted by Elin Westover, MSU Fallon/Carter County Extension Agent

Community gardens can make a significant enrichment to the community of Baker. The benefits of the finished garden are numerous. A community garden is a space that is shared by friends and neighbors for growing vegetables and flowers and provides opportunities for positive social interaction and recreation for all ages. It provides an opportunity for the community to work together to grow fresh, nutritious produce in urban areas, clean up and use vacant and unsightly lots, and provide a safe learning space for children and adults. A community garden encourages environmental stewardship, improvement of mental health, beautifies and enriches neighborhoods, and provides an opportunity for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections.

There has been an interest and desire to start a Traditional-Neighbor Community Garden for the community of Baker. Individuals, families, and organizations would have the opportunity to rent a plot and would be responsible for the care and maintenance of their plots and can choose how they will use their produce. There will be plots available for youth organizations such as 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church youth groups, daycares, etc. The garden will provide an opportunity for youth education on gardening, physical exercise and nutrition. The County Extension office would set up a demonstration plot to show different gardening methods, plant varieties, composting techniques, and more. In conjunction with the community garden, the Fallon/Carter County Extension Office will be offering Montana’s Master Gardener Program in the winter/spring of 2013. With the Master Gardener Program there may also be an opportunity to set up a community-assisted gardening where Master Gardener or experienced gardeners mentor or help youth, senior citizens, or novice gardeners and provide one on one tutoring and help.

The Community Garden Planning Committee is looking for locations for the community garden. The area can be in town or a few miles out of town. The area will need at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight with good southern exposure. Flat land is preferred for a garden site, but it is possible to create a beautiful garden on sloped land. Water access is an essential component to any garden. A piece of land that currently has water access is ideal, but if a piece of land is otherwise ideal it may be possible to negotiate water access from another source. Vehicle access, parking, site history are all other factors to consider.

If you have an area that would meet the needs of a community garden or have more questions about the community garden, please contact Elin Westover at the Fallon/Carter Extension office at 406-778-7110 or elin.westover@montana.edu. Also if you are interested in being a part of the Community Garden Planning Committee or would possibly be interested in a plot in the 2013 garden, please contact the Extension Office.