Sustainable Seawolf: Community gardens bring people together

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In last week’s debut of the column, we broke down the process of building an indoor container garden. If you are completely out of space and cannot spare room for your own garden, you’re not alone.

Luckily, there are solutions to this issue. Community gardens provide plots of land to people who want to grow their own herbs, foods and flowers, but don’t own the space to do it on their own. In some gardens, people pay for plots and reap everything that they sow. In other gardens, people plant in their plot and all of the gardeners share in the bounty.

Community gardens are abundant around town, with some of them owned by condo associations and others open to the public. McPhee Community Gardens near Mountain View and C Street Community Gardens are just a few of the available options.

Around April, registration opens for garden plots. You can sign up through the Anchorage Municipality website, pay a fee for the plot, and in late April you can begin working on your plot, preparing it for May 15 when the city turns on the water supply to the area.

According to the Municipality’s guidelines for the community gardens, “Garden amenities vary from site to site; however, most community gardens have access to water, are monitored by Parks and Recreation staff and provide portable toilets, garbage cans, and parking.”

Community gardens can sometimes have waitlists. If you can’t get a plot of land in one, Yarducopia is another option in town. It pairs gardeners with homeowners who have yard space that they would like to share with those who do not. Sign-up is a quick online process through yarducopia.org.

For ambitious students wanting a plot of land a little closer to campus, UAA has hosted a community garden in the past.

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Shannon Donovan, an associate professor of Environmental Studies at UAA, said that the garden disappeared after two years of being in operation due to the remodel of Beatrice McDonald Hall.

“During the remodel, the garden area was torn up and we were not allocated another plot of land,” Donovan said.

This does not mean that the garden is gone entirely.

“It would be great if someone wanted to start another garden,” Donovan said. “We do have a manual that includes the protocol the students used.”

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The bounty from Shannon Donovan’s garden. Photo credit: Shannon Donovan

Community gardens are a fun, easy way to learn a new skill while helping to support an important city project. For the full list of community gardens in Anchorage, go to muni.org.