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Urban farming initiative plants seeds for change at Hillsdale Park

Thursday, February 21, 2013941 views

In the middle of winter, local gardeners are already planning ahead for sunnier, warmer times in the coming months.

This spring, a site at Hillsdale Park, 3205 South 3200 West, will bloom into the newest community garden sponsored by the Salt Lake County Urban Farming Initiative.

Salt Lake County Urban Farming Director Julie Peck Dabling said the local garden spot was selected due to interest from residents in the community.

“It invites community pride and involvement,” she said.

This is the third year Salt Lake County officials have teamed up with Wasatch Community Gardens to help community gardeners transform open space in parks into sites to grow fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers.

The county Urban Farming Initiative was developed in 2009 to help improve open space areas by giving the public an opportunity to use the land for gardening.

The idea was to take publicly owned lands that were unused and lease them out to farmers and gardeners. The goal was to reduce unsightly weeds and crime, while generating revenue and encouraging conservation of the land.

The Urban Farming program provides the land and helps the gardeners to organize. Anyone from the community can sign up to get involved in a community garden. In return for a plot, gardeners must commit to volunteering time to help run the garden and keep up the site.

The community garden model has already been put into place in two other parks in Salt Lake County. Each was selected from a list of possible sites after the community in the area gathered signatures and put together an application to demonstrate support for the project.

In the first year of the program, a site was selected in South Salt Lake City. The Harmony Park Community Garden, 3700 South West Temple, is currently used by neighbors and refugee families.

Last spring, a similar garden was established in Millcreek at Ben Franklin Park, 850 East Scott Avenue. The Millcreek gardeners named the site the Creekside Community Garden and have installed a tool shed and disability access amenities for gardeners.

This year, Hillsdale was selected for the program after residents organized to demonstrate support for the project. An open house to begin planning for the growth this spring was held during the first week of February.

It’s still early, so there’s time to learn more about the project and get involved. If you would like a site within the garden, or to get more information about how community gardens operate, you can contact Wasatch Community Gardens and Giles Larsen at giles@wasatchgardens.org.

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