Wasatch Community Gardens helps residents grow fresh, healthy food
May 07, 2018 03:24PM
● By City Journals Staff
Tomatoes being grown in a garden plot at the Garden of Wheadon. (Wasatch Community Gardens)
By Christy Jepson | [email protected]
For 29 years, Wasatch Community Gardens has helped residents of all ages and incomes to grow, harvest and preserve fresh, healthy food. This nonprofit organization offers gardening workshops, hosts community events and provides garden plots to rent for a small fee. They also manage 30 community and school gardens around the Salt Lake Valley. Forty thousand pounds of produce is grown in these gardens. [AC1]
One of the newest community gardens in the Wasatch Community Garden network is the Garden of Wheadon, which opened last year in Draper. This garden sits on 64 acres of farmland owned by Gene and Deane Wheadon. Over the years, the Wheadons turned down million-dollar offers from developers to buy their property. But understanding the value of farmland, they kept saying no.
Gene Wheadon once said about their farmland, “I don’t want to sell the farm. Money is no good; you can’t eat money. City people don’t understand that!”
In 1997, the Wheadons donated their property to Utah Open Lands. The property is now a Salt Lake County park, with a 40-garden plot community garden, a farm-themed playground, walking trails, restrooms and a pavilion.
Soon after the Garden of Wheadon opened in 2017, all the garden plots were quickly rented out. “In only its second year, the garden is already in high demand! But the sooner people apply, the higher in the wait list they will be for next year,” said Giles Larsen, manager of Parks for Produce, a partnership between Salt Lake County, Wasatch Community Gardens and the community.
According to Larsen, once you are on a waiting list for a garden, you will be contacted if a plot becomes available. Then after paying the garden plot rental fee, you will attend an orientation and get assigned your plot. “The rental fee covers your water and access to the community tool shed, plus any freebies we may pass along such as seeds and starts,” Larsen said.
The Wasatch Community Gardens only allows organic gardening, which means synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are not allowed. The suggested time commitment for a garden plot is about five hours a week during springtime, four hours per week in the summer months and three hours per week in the fall months.
Community gardening is more than just harvesting your own healthy food; it’s about connecting to others and your community. “It’s more of a social experience at a community garden,” said Larsen. “It’s a great way to meet people, be involved in a vibrant community effort and enjoy the simple things in life.” Other benefits include learning gardening tips from others, being outdoors, exercising and learning to be self-reliant.
Anyone can sign up for the Wasatch Community Gardens workshops. There is usually a small registration fee ranging from $15–35 for these workshops; those who rent a garden space at any of their 30 community gardens pay only $5 per class. This spring they are offering classes on sowing spring crops, selecting super seeds, organic fertilizers and amendments, all about tomatoes, budget container gardening, urban chicken keeping basics and composting.
The next closest garden to the Garden of Wheadon in Draper is the Historic Sandy Community Garden. Currently, there are 23 garden plots on this property and some plots are still available to rent. The garden is located at 500 W. Locust St. (8880 S.) in Sandy. The yearly rental fee is $40 for an 80–160 square-foot plot.
If you are interested in putting your name on the waiting list for the Garden of Wheadon, or are interested in renting a garden plot at any of the 30 community gardens, you can visit Wasatch Community Gardens online at https://wasatchgardens.org.