Garden History

We began with a dozen or so folks getting together to form a mission statement and objectives and implement a course of action to pursue that mission.  Our first activity at the garden site was planting around 75 shrubs.  This activity consisted of preparing a strip of soil ~3 feet wide by 150 long, laying soaker hose and weed barrier, planting the shrubs,  and spreading wood chips.  This was brought about by the efforts of a dozen volunteers working and average of three hours.  Next, six people built four raised beds with an average four hours contributed per person.  A few of us planted a variety of vegetables as a demonstration of what could be done.  In the Fall of 2008, we planted ten fruit trees.  The above work was assisted by a $1,000 grant from the Popo Agie Conservation District.  We were also recipients of donations of lumber, soil, plants, tools, and irrigation equipment from local businesses and individuals.

In the off season between 2008 and 2009, we built our organizational infrastructure and formed a three person board of directors.  Through advertising, public information displays, and public meetings, we attracted 21 gardeners and three community organizations renting 19 beds ranging in size from 5 feet by 5 feet to 10 feet by 15 feet.

Our first large group activity of 2009 was a May 16th construction of 19 raised beds and the filling of those beds with soil.  This was done by 30 volunteers working for an average of 3 hours each.  We purchased lumber and logs, weed barrier, and hardware; rented and borrowed equipment; and received in donation soil and composted manure.

On May 30th ten people contributed over 30 hours of labor to build a temporary fence to protect the garden from deer and rabbits.  We used 8 feet tall T fence posts and plastic web deer fence material to encircle the raised beds, trees, and the majority of the shrubbery.

Throughout the summer season of 2009, Pushroot Community Garden held 4 classes with the Lights On Summer Program.  The classes consisted of 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students.  A PCG board member volunteered her time to work with the students teaching them garden education from the ground up.  We started off with soil building and mulching, planting vegetables and flowers and discussing what plants need to grow and produce.  Another class session discussed composting basics using our turn-style composting device, donated to PCG by the Popo Agie Area Conservation District.  Other topics included what it takes to participate in a Community Garden and the responsibilities of it’s gardeners.  Some of these responsibilities included: water conservation, mulching, weeding, picking up trash, taking care of one another’s plots and the Garden’s donated trees, shrubs and native wildflowers.  Pushroot Community Garden’s intent with these classes was to spark an interest in learning about gardening and to instill a sense of community responsibility.  As the Garden grows, we plan to increase the number of classes and contract a part-time Garden Coordinator to develop and implement our 2010 education events.

On July 12 we had a garden clean up and beautification event.  We spread wood chips between beds and around trees, pruned shrubs and trees and pulled weeds, planted perennials and built small flower beds.  This event drew 12 people working an average of two and a half hours.

On September 26th our gardeners gathered to prepare the garden for Fall.  Many folks did some final harvesting, we cleared raised beds of debris, picked up trash and weeds and hauled to the dump, some gardeners planted garlic for next season.  This event involved 13 people, working an average of two hours.  We followed the work with an end of season cook out.

In addition to the above impacts, Pushroot Community Garden has been featured in three articles in our local paper, the Lander Journal.  We have also created a website which will serve as a clearing house for Community Garden information as well as other local food issues.  Informational brochures have been distributed at a dozen locations around town, spreading the word about Community Garden programs.  We also have widened our visibility through our relationships with Community Entry Services, Lights On, and Care and Share Food Bank.  Through these efforts and working at the Garden itself, we have been able to change a few initial less positive opinions about the Garden in the neighborhood and have received numerous compliments from community members.

In the winter of 2009 and the early spring of 2010, PCG has finalized budgets for the coming 2010 season to utilize the funds awarded us through the Wyoming Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Grant.  Assisted by our recently established Steering Committee, we are establishing budget and project priorities to determine what further fundraising we may need and how best to spend current funds.

Also in this off season we have added a new board member.  Mike Lewis will be taking on the role of Treasurer and Sara Deur Urbanski will be moving to a board member at large position.  Mike has a background in accounting and extensive experience with non profit organizations including his present role running the Care and Share Food Bank here in Lander.

Soon we will begin advertising and publicizing our annual season kick off meeting on April 21st at the Lander Public Library.  In 2009, this event attracted 25 people.  We are anticipating a similar turn out this year.

After the April meeting we will be determining the number of raised beds we will need to construct for this season.  Our first big event will be the construction and filling of those beds with soil and will occur sometime in May.  This will be followed by the construction of a permanent fence which will serve both to delineate the boundaries of the park and to keep deer and rabbits from damaging plants, trees and bushes.  Prior to these events we will be purchasing a tool and equipment storage shed and placing it at the garden.

In 2010 we will continue our efforts to educate folks about the importance of growing vegetables and being part of the community.  This will be done through our continued involvement in the Lights On summer school program.  In addition, the Lander Parks and Recreation department will be offering classes for young people to learn about gardening and these classes will be held at the Pushroot Community Garden.

We also hope to offer educational events throughout the season featuring a variety of season extension themes, organic gardening techniques, and encouraging gardeners to become involved with the Lander Farmers Market.  Some of these events will be in coordination with the Popo Agie Conservation District through its Barnyards and Backyards programs.

We are also working with a local timber frame builder to construct a timber frame gazebo for the garden, possibly for the 2010 season.  This would be a donation of timber and the labor to cut the traditional joinery.  The raising of the frame will be a public event with the final project seeking to fulfill the portion of the PCG mission to serve the community as a meeting place.

In the 2010 season we will be planting a pumpkin patch as a fundraiser for the garden.  We will also be planting one of our plots with a variety of vegetables to be sold at the Farmers Market, also as a fundraiser.