AVON - The Vail Valley chapter of the Salvation Army has spent years helping feed people in the area. This year, the group will help some people grow their own food.
The local charity this year is establishing its first community garden, just behind the group's office to the east of Avon's City Market store. Community gardens are popular, and local Salvation Army director Tsu Wolin Brown said she's already heard plenty of interest in the garden plots. People can sign up for either individual or commercial plots starting today.
Eight of those plots will be saved for people helped by the charity now, who will agree to share some of the produce from their gardens. Individual plots will rent for $50 for the season, with the commercial plots renting for $200.
Wolin Brown said the Salvation Army has put up the initial investment in good gardening soil and material for raised beds.
"But we don't have enough money for a fence," Wolin Brown added, dropping a hint that the charity would welcome any and all donations of help, materials or money to at least partially critter-proof the garden.
Meighen Lovelace is part of the committee putting the garden project together. Lovelace's family has used the Salvation Army's food pantry, which is how Lovelace got to know Wolin Brown.
"We started talking about how to provide healthy, fresh food to people," Lovelace said. "This seems like a great solution."
Lovelace didn't really start gardening until last year, at the community garden in West Vail, where she already has a plot reserved for this season. Last year, she grew carrots, beets, radishes and other vegetables.
"I really focused on high yield," she said. "I had great help from people."
Fellow committee member Bridget Bradford said people from other community gardens in the valley have been a great help to the people organizing the new one in Avon.
"The best way to garden is with other people," Bradford said. "You make your mistakes together."
Bradford's interest in gardening has come from her academic studies at Colorado Mountain College, where she's taking classes in "sustainability studies" and "sustainable cuisine."
"Now I'm trying to (garden) on my own," Bradford said.
While Bradford is also relatively new to gardening, she said she's come to love it.
"There's a real therapeutic element to it," she said.
Gardening, especially growing food, is also a way for people - especially kids - to learn about part of the process of putting food on the table.
"It's cool to see that food come up," Lovelace said. "And it's connecting with your food and the land."