Community gardens sprout around valley |

Community gardens sprout around valley

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – To grow a community garden is to grow a community – it’s the very reason that Cassie Pence, of Eagle-Vail, is so excited about the first community garden in her neighborhood.

Pence finalized a deal Thursday night that will transform the former site of the Eagle-Vail pool into a community garden with 40 to 50 plots. Work should begin this summer to get the site ready for next summer’s planting.

Pence already has a list of 120 people who are interested in plots.

“The community really wants it,” she said.

Turns out the Eagle-Vail community isn’t unlike communities across the country that are turning to community gardens both for unity within the neighborhood and as a local food source. The trend, which has exploded in cities like Detroit where self-reliance is becoming more and more necessary as a result of the economy, shows that a community garden can work wonders.

Kristen Bertuglia, the town of Vail’s environmental sustainability coordinator, has helped bring a community garden to the town of Vail, near Stephens Park in West Vail.

Bertuglia said the interest has been tremendous.

“People are looking at the connection between their food, the impact on the environment and their health,” Bertuglia said.

The 16 plots at the West Vail Community Garden are sold out, and there’s a waiting list for plots that become available. People are increasingly wanting to be more connected to their food and where it comes from, and it’s something Bertuglia said also creates a better sense of community.

“It’s a totally exciting time for community gardens across the country,” Bertuglia said. “People are taking ownership of their own food supply.”

The sunny, warm weather in recent days has kept the garden fairly busy, she said.

“People are just so excited about trying to learn what will grow here and what will be a challenge,” she said. “People are really starting to think of it as a place to gather.”

Pence has never been a part of a community garden before, but she said just the organization of the garden has brought her a ton of joy.

“I’ve met so many different people I never would have met had I not done this project,” Pence said. “Through gardening – it’s such a common hobby, an element of life – you get all these people coming together in one spot. You get to meet your neighbor.”

Pence said the Eagle-Vail community gardeners already consist of master gardeners, a landscape architect and gardeners who have been doing it as a hobby for decades. The community will have access to all of their knowledge as the Eagle-Vail community garden takes shape and continues to grow throughout the years, she said.

“It takes a whole community,” Pence said. “People are into it – everyone from teachers who want to bring students in to those who just want a plot to garden.”

In Eagle, the Brush Creek Park Community Gardens’ members also make their own compost. Members are all expected to participate in communal chores to keep the entire garden maintained, as well as participate in fall cleanups and other improvement projects.

The Brush Creek Park Community Gardens’ mission follows the same train of thought that community gardens also grow communities.

“The mission of Brush Creek Park Community Gardens is to build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and to preserve Eagle County’s agricultural history and our environment in Eagle, Colorado,” the mission statement says.

The Brush Creek Park Community Gardens also hosted a “get to know your neighbor” event at the gardens, which included projects like cleaning the barn, weeding and building new raised beds.

Pence said the trend is inspiring because people are really starting to get involved and make a difference.

“I think people everywhere are realizing our food system is broken,” Pence said. “If we don’t fix it and start localizing where we produce our food, we’ll be in trouble.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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