Throughout history, Community Gardens have served a multitude of purposes. They have been a source for:
- Self Help food cultivation for the unemployed and down and out.
- Educational experiences for children and other students of gardening.
- Communities to sustain themselves and others during times of crises like during World Wars One and Two (The Victory Gardens.)
- Environmental stewardship.
- Urban restoration.
- Providing goods to local food or farmers’ markets.
Arizona has many community gardens that fulfill one or more of the goals highlighted above.
One of them is Friends in Gasca Gardens (FIGG) on the Tempe/Chandler border at the Southeast corner of Warner and Bonarden.
Founded in 2010, this Community Garden has 38 plots. Twenty-Nine is maintained by paying community members (who pay approximately $100 depending on whether they are first time planters and the amount of soil and water required). Seven are reserved to provide vegetables for Food Banks. One is designed for educational use and the last one is a demonstration model.
A waiting list is developed if all the paying lots are filled.
Eduarda Schroder, one of the organizers behind FIGG, met at the Extreme Bean Café to discuss the garden and its features.
The questions and her responses are below.
1) Please tell the reader about the garden.
“It was founded in 2010 by Pam Smyth and Alex Prescott. The location was ideal and they approached the owner of the property (Deena Gasca) and a deal was struck.”
“The purpose is to preserve and instill a love of gardening, teach the art of growing food, and engaging the community in community gardening. Many join and like to learn. Arizona is advantageous because you can garden year-round. There are children’s education programs where kids come to the garden and they spend a couple of hours learning how to cultivate the soil, grow food, and participate in activities like pickling. All gardens are unique to the groups that run it.”
“One of the things that was pleasantly surprising in the beginning was the enthusiasm for community gardening in the valley. There is something about planting seeds and watching food grow. “
“A lot of founding founders have moved on but others have taken their place for the available plots. Sometimes there is a waiting list.”
2) What is the size of FIGG
“It is 165 feet by 54 feet. Each plot is generally four by ten but the food growing ones may be larger.”
3) What are the names of the types of trees and plants are in the garden?
“Occasionally strawberries, but we are following the growing guides of Arizona. We plant all varieties of lettuce, peas, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, beets, collard greens, herbs, lemongrass, and basil.”
“The people pay for their plots get to keep what they grow.”
“We once had a plot to grow what was native to Arizona like corn and maze.”
4) What are the short term and long term goals for the garden?
“To make the people alive, healthy, and functioning. We also enjoy creating new communities and friendships.”
5) Please describe the maintenance of the garden.
“People are responsible for their own maintenance and they participate in other activities like the food bank (Tempe Community Agency where food is harvested weekly and is sent to the food bank) and child education committee (like at the YMCA and local elementary school.) We all have to participate in the general cleanup of the garden and there are several workdays where we all do activities to clean and refresh the area including the paths. We pick up the soil and compost and get ready for seasonal adjustments.”
“In the area, we need volunteers to help with community gardens and help with all of the ones in the valley (and the school ones as well.)”
The people that are involved with FIGG will be celebrating its tenth anniversary on November 7, 2020, at 9:00 a.m.
Community gardening is a positive way for neighbors to come together and learn how to grow food for themselves and others in need. They can create bonds and experiences that benefit local society over a lifetime.
For more information on Friends In Gasca Gardens, please click on their Facebook Page here.