Despite the recent snowfall, gardening is still very much on people's minds. Cassie Pence fields a call or an email about the Eagle-Vail Community Garden nearly every single day. Pence is the founder and president of the garden, which is located near the Eagle-Vail swimming pool and tennis courts.
"People want to grow their own food, which is so exciting, and I think we are going to see a lot more community gardens pop up in Eagle County," Pence said.
Jenny Lorch, the president of the Eagle Community Garden, agrees there's a grow-your-own-food movement catching on locally.
"There is a lot of food stuff going on these days in the valley, and a lot people who care about good, healthy food," Lorch said.
Over in Avon, you may have seen the beginning of the new Avon Community Garden popping up. The Vail Valley Salvation Army is establishing its first community garden, just behind the group's office to the east of Avon's City Market store. Director Tsu Wolin Brown studied other successful community gardens in town to know how to structure the new garden.
"We owe so much to the other community gardens for supporting us," Brown said. "We want our clients to be able to access fresh, healthy produce and for children to learn where their food comes from."
If you are interested in growing your own food but are plot-impaired, then there are a handful of community gardens in Eagle County happy to let you dig in the dirt. Here's information about each one:
Eagle Community Gardens
Where: Between downtown Eagle and Eagle Ranch Village on the opposite site of the Brush Creek Pavilion.
Number of beds: About 40.
Availability: Around 5 to 10 beds will be available for this coming season.
Cost: Beds are $25 or $10 depending on size and another $25 deposit. If you complete 10 community work hours you'll get that money back.
Mission: "To build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and to preserve Eagle County's agricultural history and our environment in Eagle. The garden was created in 1999."
Coming up: A kick-off work day is slated for April 28 at 2 p.m.
On the horizon for the garden: Garden members hope to plant fruit trees in space that's been set aside for a "future orchard" on the map. "We have one tree we planted last year, an apple tree, so we'll have to see how it came through the winter," said Eagle Community Garden President Jenny Lorch. "Apple trees, apricots, cherries, they all grow down here so those are options. But animals are part of the problem - we'd need to fence in the trees."
Avon Community Garden
Where: Behind the Salvation Army building just east of City Market.
Number of beds: 12 individual plots that are 4-feet-by-8-feet and four commercial plots, which are 4-feet-by-16-feet. Eight of the plots will be saved for people helped by the charity now, who will agree to share some of the produce from their gardens.
On the garden horizon: Vail Valley Salvation Army director Tsu Wolin Brown said they've put up the initial investment in good gardening soil and material for raised beds, but don't have enough money for a fence and would welcome any and all donations of help, materials or money to at least partially critter-proof the garden.
Coming up: A work day is set for April 27 at 8 a.m. Volunteers will put the soil in the beds.
Cost: Individual plots will rent for $50 for the season, with the commercial plots renting for $200. All applications must be received by the Salvation Army no later than May 13.
More information: Visit www.salvationarmyvail.org to download the application.
Eagle-Vail Community Garden
Garden catch phrase: Growing food and community organically.
Location: 99 Eagle Road in Eagle-Vail, near the Eagle-Vail swimming pool.
Number of beds: 60 4-foot-by-8-foot raised beds and 12 4-foot-by-16-foot "corporate" beds, set aside for businesses. Currently, restaurants Grouse Mountain Grill in Beaver Creek, Splendido in Beaver Creek, Vin48 in Avon, Loaded Joe's in Avon and Leonora in The Sebastian at Vail grow vegetables in the garden. There are also demonstration beds and a communal gardening area.
Cost: $50 per season.
Availability: There aren't any garden beds available currently, but email to be put on a waiting list. Preference is given to Eagle-Vail residents. "We do have a lot of communal areas, so if people wanted to volunteer they could share in the work, share in the harvest," Pence said.
On the garden horizon: Garden members plan to grow greens this year in the demonstration gardens and plan to bag and sell the Eagle-Vail Greens mix at the garden as a fundraiser. The garden was recently awarded a grant to build a perennial area, which will include themed garden beds such as habitat gardens, native perennials, a beer and wine garden and sensory plants.
Minturn Community Garden
Location: 200 block of Minturn between Boulder and Pine Streets.
Number of beds: 32.
Availability: A limited number of plots are available. Minturn residents and Minturn employees get priority on plots; the garden will be opened to all on a first come, first served basis for the rest.
Cost: $20 for a 4-feet-by-4-feet plot or $30 for a 4-feet-by-8-feet plot.
Coming up: The first garden work day is May 4th starting at 8 a.m.
More information: Applications are available at the Minturn Community Fund Office at 291 Main Street in Minturn or online at www.minturncommunityfund.org or call 970-306-6553 for more information.
West Vail Community Garden
Location: West of Stephens Park Intermountain neighborhood of West Vail.
Number of beds: 27 approximately 90-square-foot triangles.
Cost: $20 for a half plot, or $30 for a full plot.
Availability: There aren't any garden beds currently available, but email firstname.lastname@example.org to be placed on the waiting list.
On the garden horizon: We're starting to work on perimeter landscaping this summer," said Marian Cartin, the garden president. "We're putting in a row of perennials around our sign and a row of lilacs along the road to create a living fence there.
"The last two years we were building all the plots and this year we can really focus on gardening," Cartin continued. "A third of our meembers will be new this year, so we're focusing on getting people comfortable with gardening."
More information: Visit westvailcommunitygarden.org.