Grow your own: MoCom Gardens offers land, tools, water and compost

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Grow your own: MoCom Gardens offers land, tools, water and compost

“It just makes common sense to me for there to be land where anyone can grow their own food for themselves if they want to,” Moab Community Gardens manager Becky Mann said. “In Moab in particular, with the high amount of rental properties and limited land availability, it’s important to provide that opportunity to folks who don’t have access to garden space.”

The Moab Community Gardens – nicknamed MoCom Gardens – is now in its third year and has garden space available for gardeners of all levels, from beginners to experts. Sign ups for the 2020 growing season are underway now. Registration for a garden plot may be done online at bit.ly/mocom-apply and plots will be assigned by March 20 for those who applied for a plot by March 15. However, people can still apply for a garden space even after these dates.

In addition to land, MoCom Gardens provides garden tools, compost and water – and community.

“I love the community aspect of the gardens,” Mann said. “It’s great to chit chat with folks about plants and (it is) a welcoming atmosphere for everyone.”

Mann said MoCom Gardens is kicking off the 2020 season with a Garden Planning workshop that experienced gardener and MoCom Gardens member Shiree Duncan is leading on Thursday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the Grand County Public Library.

The event is sponsored by Moonflower Community Cooperative.

At the workshop, Duncan will share tips and information on how to set up and plan a veggie garden, including garden layout and plant selection as well as timing of events in the growing season.

Duncan sees multiple benefits to the community gardens.

“Growing food assists individuals in connecting to the Earth, the seasons and their bodies,” she said. “Community gardens bond people together, creating resilience of community. And, food grown locally has a much lower carbon footprint then food shipped in from thousands of miles away.”

Mann noted that growing a garden can be very satisfying and an ongoing learning opportunity, but does require some time commitment to making sure your plot stays watered, weeded, and harvested.

As part of the garden plot application process, MoCom Gardens asks for the applicant to select the size of garden desired – half (8’x10’), full (8’x20’), large (16’x38’), or extra large (32’x38’). A plot fee table lays out ratios of volunteer time and cash needed to purchase each size of plot. Gardeners can opt for less cash and more volunteer time, or to pay somewhat more and make less of a time commitment. For example: a gardener working a half plot may choose to pay $5 and volunteer eight hours, or pay $20 and volunteer two hours.

“We try to keep the garden plots very affordable,” Mann said.

Volunteering may involve weeding, fence or irrigation repair, and other typical garden chores, according to the MoCom Gardens website. Volunteers can do work during MoCom Brunch & Workdays on the third Saturdays of every month, or on their own schedule throughout the growing season. The MoCom Garden managers will assist volunteers with tasks as needed.

Moab Community Gardens has ambitious plans for the future.

“We are working on developing a network of organic community garden spaces in the Moab Valley, to enable easy access no matter where you live,” Mann said.

She said that, while the sizes of the gardens will vary, each garden will ideally have multiple plots available to potential gardeners plus some kind of common garden component that can be used by all the gardeners.

Mann gave the example of the East Bench Garden – the first MoCom garden begun in 2018 – where there are 10 full-sized (10’ x 20’) plots for gardeners to grow their own food, plus a large herb bed that contains mint, chives, sage, oregano, tarragon, sorel, burnett, and other herbs that anyone can harvest.

This year, MoCom Gardens is developing new garden spaces on East Center Street and at the Our Village Community Center on 500 West. Development involves making sure the soil is prepared in beds or rows, and that the area has water and fencing.

Mann noted that the East Bench Garden is most suited to beginners, while the new plots on East Center Street and at Our Village are most appropriate for experienced and dedicated gardeners.

MoCom Gardens is a project of the Resiliency Hub, a Moab nonprofit with goals that include modeling healthy stewardship and promoting access to basic needs. Mann said the Resiliency Hub provides liability insurance to the gardens, and added that many of MoCom Gardens’ tools, irrigation materials, and seeds have been supplied through grants and donations from community members.

Last year, Mann said, the community gardens had 13 adult gardeners and several kids helping out, and many of them are returning this year. Mann said that with the garden expansions there is room for about 20 gardeners this year.

The Moab Community Gardens may be contacted at mocomgardens@gmail.com