Audio by title italian_village_community_garden

Jeanie and Drew Simmons Italian Village Community Garden

3:04 minutes (2.81 MB)

Jeanie and Drew Simmons cutting old t-shirts for tying cherry tomato plants to their stakes. Coarser materials such as twine can cause cuts in the plants as they grow.

As for someone buying the property and likely ending the garden here, Simmons said , “I definitely think we’ll look for some alternative since it’s been such a good experience, but until then, we’ll just enjoy what we have.”

Simmons said getting to know you’re neighbors is important if you want to have a community garden near your home.

Her husband Drew suggests that people simply jump into gardening.
“Just do it. I’m not much of a green thumb. Some stuff comes up every year. Some stuff doesn’t, but it’s great to see what you can do.”

The city leases properties to community gardeners for a low yearly fee. But Drew Simmons said it might be worthwhile to approach private owners about using lots they have for sale. Using someone else’s property while they try to sell it seems more of an option than a group of community gardeners buying it for that purpose. A property for sale near this garden is listed at about $70,000. The property where neighbors here currently garden is listed at $130,000.

Simmons said letting people have a community garden on properties for sale might appeal to at least some of the current owners and prospective buyers.

“About the pros and cons , there might be some people who look at the property and say ‘wow, I wouldn’t want to buy that property and then have neighbors who are upset because I’m the one who bought the garden property.’

Amy Gariff-Adams and Colin Adams--Italian Village Community Garden

3:48 minutes (3.48 MB)

Gariff-Adams said their plot has been a success. “We’ve tried shallots for the first time and they look great. Swiss chard took a little while to take off. Lettuce was awesome--pulled out but will be replanted in the fall. The mint is taking over. The tomatoes look lovely. We’re very pleased.”

“We had some trouble a couple years ago with Blossom End Rot. This year we don’t seem to have that…We’re hoping for the first time ever to can tomatoes this year.”

Her husband Collin explained the garden’s beginnings. “This all happened by sheer accident. Aaron (Carmack) asked the landowners here if we could throw in a few tomatoes and the landowners ( Frank Elmer and Ruth Glass ) said ‘why don’t you just start a community garden?’”

Adams said many of his fellow gardeners strive to be organic in their methods, but that he doesn’t. Referring to his tomatoes he said, “I Miracle-Gro the hell out of these things. And look at the bumper crop I’m getting this year.”

Earlier that evening I had marveled at the prolific clusters of tomatoes. As someone who considers himself an advocate of organic gardening and farming, hearing Adams attribute that burst of tomatoes to Miracle-Gro surprised and--for some mysterious reason-- amused me.

Megan Schmidt ---Italian Village Community Garden

2:38 minutes (2.41 MB)

Another Italian Village Community gardener who seemed to be enjoying the festive ambience that Sunday evening is Megan Schmidt

“We’ve been doing it for 3 years. Every year I add something new. I’ve really learned a lot over those 3 years…This year we decided to do okra, watermelon, raspberries, red onions...”

Schmidt also is growing Brussels sprouts, lettuce, green beans, cherry tomatoes, “mystery peppers” and Beefsteak tomatoes. Schmidt said the garden is a nice gathering place.
“It’s really fun. It (gardening) is more fun with your neighbors and friends.”

Living only a little ways down the street, she can go and grab while preparing her dinner.
“The best thing is eating what you grew out of your garden. It’s a good feeling.”

Schmidt also planted flowers such as Black Eyed Susans and Arizona Blanket Flowers.
“It adds color…and attracts butterflies and bees which is good for the garden.”

----Tom Over

Aaron Carmack -----Italian Village Community Garden

10:18 minutes (9.43 MB)

Frank Elmer and Ruth Glass have the property for sale for a price of about $130,000.
Carmack, one of the people gardening here said “everybody knows that the day that this lot sells, the days are numbered then for the garden.”

But for the past 3 years neighbors here have been growing flowers and vegetables. There are 16 raised beds, each about 4 ft x 16ft.

The garden gets plenty of sun all day. And this year Carmack and neighbor Jason Slaygle installed an irrigation system that operates automatically, watering the garden between 3 and 5 am each day. This cuts down on the amount of time they have to spend on watering, and according to some of the gardeners here, also cuts down on the amount of water used.

The water is drawn from Carmack’s home a couple hundred feet away. The cost is split among the gardeners.

And there is some involuntary sharing going on as well.