Gardening from the ground up in Eagle-Vail |

Gardening from the ground up in Eagle-Vail

NWS garden wood 1 KA 9-15-11

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado – Keri Hays loves seeing her two kids showing off their backyard garden. Locals without yards should have the same pleasure.

After just a few months, a community garden project in Eagle-Vail is on track to see its first seeds next spring. The project got a big boost Thursday, when a load of beetle-killed timber was delivered to the garden site – now just a patch of weedy dirt.

A mobile lumber mill will cut the logs into boards, which will be used to build raised boxes for the garden. Other material from the logs will be used for bedding and mulch.

“We could have just gone to Home Depot, but we have so much natural resource here – this just seems like a more sustainable thing to do,” said Cassie Pence, one of the garden’s organizers.

While lumber for the raised beds has been delivered, there’s still a lot of work to do. Volunteers are needed to build the boxes. And, with 16-inch-deep beds for each box, the project needs a lot of soil. Pence and other garden backers hope they can find someone to donate the dirt in time to mix it in with mulch and other stuff that’s good for growing.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

But if the project’s luck holds, someone will have a few truckloads of dirt to put toward the project. Garden organizers have already received a donation of land and irrigation water from the Eagle-Vail community, and Eagle County, the Pine Man and Groundskeeper donated their time and equipment to get the lumber ready.

When finished next year, the plan is to have 28 garden beds, each four by eight feet, and eight beds for corporate sponsors. One corporate sponsor – Vin 48 in Avon – has signed up, and 24 of the individual beds are already leased for next year. There will also be a community garden area for flowers and such.

“I’m really proud of our progress,” Pence said. “A lot of these projects can take years.”

Hays, also a part of core group of garden supporters, said this has been her first experience with a community project, and it’s one she’s enjoyed.

“I’ve learned so much – I’m very thankful to be part of this team,” Hays said. “And being part of the group has been a whole other learning experience.”

Ironically, Hays said her family probably won’t have one of the individual plots next year – they have that backyard garden, after all. But her husband, Charles, is one of the owners of Vin 48, so there’s probably going to be some family work in that big plot next year. And, since Charles has used the backyard garden for herbs and some vegetables to use at the restaurant, there may be more room in the home plot for different plants.

And, Pence said, it’s surprising how many different plants will grow here with a little planning – and, maybe, a cover or two for early or late in the season.

While this year’s growing season is just about over, especially in the upper valley, garden organizers are already getting excited for next spring. But there are more immediate needs.

“We could really use a table saw to help us build the beds,” Pence said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

Support Local Journalism