A group of Oracle residents are interested in starting a community garden. On Sunday, Nov. 6, about 25 people showed up at the group’s first public meeting held at Skate Park on Mt. Lemmon Rd., which is the selected site for the garden. The Learning Garden, as it has been named, envisions “a place where people can have their own garden plot, garden with others in a shared area, and learn through workshops about all aspects of gardening.”
At the meeting chaired by Liz Tuck, ideas were shared about plans for the garden and how the nearly two-acre space should be utilized. The property also has a building with bathrooms and a storage area. Liz said that the “driving force” behind the garden vision was Linda Leigh. Linda is the owner of Vermillion Wormery and is an expert on worms and composting. Some of the ideas for the garden included water harvesting system, organic gardening (no pesticides), rental of garden space, building a gazebo, volleyball court, seed & plant exchange, children’s garden and play area, hydroponics, tree orchard and raised garden beds.
Liz provided an update of some of the preliminary work that has been done. The startup group has met with Pinal County Parks and Open Spaces about the leasing of the Skate Park. The county has offered to lease the space for $1 per year for 10 years. The Learning Garden will have to be organized as a non-profit and provide liability insurance for the property. They have met with Pinal County Ag Extension’s Gardening Coordinator and have gathered information about other community gardens in the county – what works, what fails and what support they can provide.
There are many challenges ahead, the most important one being community interest and volunteers to make the garden warranted. It is estimated that at least 20 individual garden plots are needed to make the garden sustainable. Financing will be an issue to get the garden going. Funding will be needed for fencing, construction materials, water/electric bills, insurance, supplies, etc. Some ideas to raise money included fundraising activities, concerts, selling produce/plants and space rentals.
There is still a ways to go before the first seed will be planted. Getting the community involved is the big part. The Learning Garden is looking for people interested in joining the project or volunteering please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.