Community is key to success

RANGELY I As gardeners nurse seedlings in anticipation of the Rangely Community Gardens’ second planting season, community support for the project is growing, too.
That support has come in various forms; from a donated tiller to CNCC’s equine studies and management program donating manure as fertilizer. Dozens of local businesses have contributed merchandise or cash and organizations like 4-H and FFA have provided volunteers to water flowers and help with pest control.
“It truly is a full community effort,” Rangely Community Gardens president Lisa Hatch said.
In late 2009, founders Peggy Rector and Phyllis Henley, along with Hatch and other garden committee members, envisioned a commercial garden that could help supply food to the hospital and local schools. When that plan was stymied by funding obstacles, the group realized that local individuals and entities were key to the project’s success.
“We thought, well, why not make it more community participating?” Hatch said. “That vision remained, (that) we’d be able to build relationships within the community. That vision was the most important part.”
Relationship-building happens on different levels, like the town of Rangely offering the garden a 25-year lease on its land for $0. And this summer, the garden will partner with the town to plant and maintain the flowers along Rangely’s Main Street. The town will cover all costs, including plants, soil, and water, then donate a portion of the money they would have paid an employee to water flowers to the gardens instead.
“This partnership benefits both parties in that the garden gets much-needed funding, and the town pays less to take care of the town flowers by not using employees to plant,” Hatch said. “The town will not need to hire or supervise an employee for flower maintenance or pay on-call time for regular weekend watering.”
Two kinds of spaces make up the land adjacent to the Rangely Camper Park, where the garden is located. Some plots are “sold” for $60 per season to individuals or families who plant, maintain and harvest their own produce. The number of available plots this year is 26, up eight from last year, and all but two are currently sold.
The rest of the space is truly the community garden, where volunteers and committee members tend a “slowly developing” botanical area, along with a garden that will, come mid-July, supply produce for the farmer’s market.
“We’re going to try to make (the gardens) self-sustaining,” Hatch said. “We’ll probably end up doing a little bit of grant work, but not much.” An Encana grant last year helped with the project’s start-up. This year, Hatch hopes, a $2,500 Chevron grant, with another $2,500 next year, will help keep it running. These contributions, too, are considered community-based.
“For both Encana and Chevron, they don’t give to communities unless they’re working within those communities,” Hatch said. “It is a local contribution.”
Volunteer groups that care for different aspects of the garden are now up and running, and volunteers can earn discounts for the produce they help tend. For more information or to get involved, contact Hatch at 620-7685 or email lhatch@centurytel.net.