The pocket park at 517 E. Third St. in Cortez will soon sprout a bounty of food for local families.
The new Third Street community garden is taking applications for 10 plots available for rent for 2022. A preference is given to people who live in the neighborhood.
Successful applicants will be provided seeds, tools, soil water and gardening instruction, and get to keep their harvest, said organizer Heidi Brugger, of Common Ground Cortez Community Gardens.
“It is a great way to start gardening and is an opportunity for residents who don’t have room for a garden,” she said. “Parks are perfect, the whole family can join in. The kids can help with gardening and play basketball close by.”
Individual plots are $5 per year, medium plots are $10 per year, and family plots are $15 per year. Applications are at commongroundcortez.org
All gardeners are required to complete one hour of volunteer work a month that benefits the garden as a whole. These hours can include weeding or watering common areas, composting, improving infrastructure, cleaning tools, and helping with events.
Plots are assigned first come, first served. Those who do not receive a plot will be placed on a waiting list and contacted if a plot becomes available during the season.
The new garden was developed in response to the popularity and success of the 18-plot Cortez Recreation Center Garden, Brugger said, which has more interest than available plots.
Both gardens are organized in cooperation with the City of Cortez, Common Ground Community Gardens and the Good Samaritan Center Food Pantry.
The city provides the water and park space, and local volunteers and gardening enthusiasts established the program, conduct fundraising and build raised beds. Some of the harvest from community gardens supports the Good Samaritan Food Pantry that is distributes food to those in need.
The Third Street Garden will compost bins, hoses, and a tool chest for gardener use. Workshops on gardening, recipe sharing and community pot lucks are also part of both garden projects. One plot is reserved as a children’s and demonstration garden.
Besides providing food sovereignty for the family, community gardens bring people together.
“They are a great way to make new friends in a safe environment and connect with nature,” Brugger said. “Gardening has taken off because of the pandemic, people are finding the time to grow their own food.”
Gardeners and volunteers also have the opportunity to create and join committees that work on special projects or efforts to support the garden organization that are important to them. Committees include the Children's Garden Program, demonstration garden, and events.
“Having a sense of community, a strong connection is really important here,” added Cortez Mayor Pro Tem Rachel Medina. “The garden lets everyone gather around a shared goal and vision, you get to know your neighbors.”
Gardeners are encouraged to share some of their harvest or their excess produce with the Good Samaritan Center Food Pantry.