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Using a grant provided by the University of Nevada, Reno’s Cooperative Extension, the William N. Pennington Life Center created a community garden this winter and is inviting those who want to step outside and grow their own food for healthy cooking to sign up for a planter spot.
The goal is to promote the community garden as an avenue for people to grow healthy vegetables to take home and cook for their families. All ages are welcome, although young children will need an adult or guardian accompanying them if they participate.
Anita Lamb, who heads up the homemaking service at the Life Center and is a lifelong gardener and self-proclaimed “outdoors gal,” has taken the lead in the community garden. She is available to community members who are interested in starting a few plants in the raised beds on the south side of the center.
“My brother has a business located in Idaho called Harveks. He just got the go-ahead to begin selling these unique space-saving planters,” Lamb explained. “The Life Center happened to be his first large order. I had mentioned to my boss and as we researched them it was decided because of their style and size, they would work perfectly for this gardening project with our Cooperative Extension grant.
The public can sign up for a planter (different sizes are available depending on your household size) and provide their own labor (watering, weeding, harvesting) to ensure a bumper crop this season. Lamb offers instruction and information on the needs different vegetable plants require. The grant funding provides the seeds, water and soil and the Life Center offers the location.
Lamb explained that those who volunteer to tend to plants need to make a regular commitment for the season. “If we see the garden is being neglected, we will call you twice to encourage you to come back. After that, your planter space is offered to the next person on our list,” she said. Signing in and documenting one’s time in the garden also are required for the grant to continue.
There are currently 14 planter towers to accommodate households with 1-2 people and three family-sized planters for homes with four or more people. There is also a community garden wall with planters for large crops like tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers. Planters are outfitted with covers to ensure plants don’t freeze. Lamb watches the weather forecast and covers the planters as needed for the weather conditions.
“We currently have three types each of tomatoes and zucchini and four types of cucumbers growing,” Lamb said, adding that the public may bring their own seeds to plant if they like. Other starts include onions, potatoes, herbs, cauliflower, carrots, bok choi and Swiss chard. Flowers are encouraged as well and there are starts of marigolds and pansies already flourishing.
The community garden is open 24/7 through the growing season for folks to stop by and tend their crops. Lamb is at the garden weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to help and encourage growers. Please call the Life Center at (775)423-7096 to sign up for planter space and let’s get to growing!