Moab Community Gardens is getting its hands back in the soil, just in time for the summer solstice.

“It’s been a while, but we’re having our first in-person workday of the year this coming weekend,” said Rebecca Mann, MoCom garden manager.

Even without group workdays, the three community garden plots managed by the group are growing in the summer heat, she said.

“Everything is looking really good in three gardens,” said Mann.

Now in its third year, the group offers garden space to community members at their East Bench Garden, a plot at the Our Village Community Center and one in a private yard.

“The East Bench Garden is our original space, and there are 13 gardeners there,” said Mann.

Last year volunteers worked to transform a weedy, overlooked area at the location into a native plant area.

“It’s great to see that change, now there are lots of plants that bees love and are good for the ecosystem,” said Mann.

This year, MoCom Gardens added additional raised beds to create a little more space for more community gardeners.

“It’s already full up,” said Mann proudly. The location at Our Village, stewarded by Claire Core, hosts seven gardeners.

The last of MoCom’s current locations is a private yard dedicated to growing food for the local food bank, primarily beans and corn.

“It looks like we have a lot of food coming out of that plot,” said Mann.

“That’s the one where we’re looking for some volunteers to really care for that garden,” she said, noting that volunteers from the Moab Valley Multicultural Center also assist with weeding and watering the plot.

Mann indicated that, in the long term, the group was looking to develop a new garden plot somewhere closer to the center of town.

“Everything is growing and we’re heading into harvest season quickly,” said Mann. She said that many of the community gardeners were already harvesting greens, turnips, zucchini and radishes in addition to enjoying the community herb beds.

Mann said that the group was excited to come together for some community workdays to organize and weed common areas. Formerly, workdays drew five to 10 workers for a relaxed day of listening to music, sharing food, working on irrigation and path-building projects and connecting with the community.

“Of course, we’re not doing potlucks right now,” said Mann, who noted that the gardens had taken other public health measures in response to COVID-19.

“We’ve asked our gardeners to use gloves and be mindful of personal space,” she said, adding that the gardens were asking people to sign in and wear masks when physical distancing is impossible. Communal tools are sterilized and handwashing stations have been set up for gardeners to use. The group is intending on keeping workdays to just a few people at a time, spread out between locations.

“Several people have said it’s really nice to just be outside and reconnect with people” after the social stress placed on the community by the coronavirus, Mann said.

“That’s why I’m personally so interested in this stuff,” said Mann. “It’s not just to garden, but these places are such great community space where you can meet new people, people who aren’t part of your social bubble or people you never would have met otherwise. It’s such an important open space where it feels equal.”

MoCom Gardens is a project of the Resiliency Hub, a Moab nonprofit. Anyone interested in learning more or volunteering can email mocomgardens@gmail.com