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Lawrence commissioners to determine whether to create four community gardens

February 6, 2012


If you’ve got the green thumb, Lawrence city commissioners may have the ground for you.

Commissioners at their meeting Tuesday will consider approving a plan to allow four pieces of city-owned ground to be used for community gardens or market farms to promote everything from free fruit to fresh produce for local school lunches.

“We feel like we have four projects that can really showcase what’s possible,” said Eileen Horn, the city and county’s sustainability coordinator. “We have phenomenal soils for growing fruits and vegetables in Lawrence. The potential in Lawrence is huge.”

City commissioners previously had agreed to accept applications for 13 pieces of city-owned property across the city, but on Tuesday commissioners are being asked to move forward on four specific proposals. They are:

• A community orchard by Skyler Adamson and the Lawrence Fruit Tree project. The site will be near 13th and Garfield streets and along the Burroughs Creek Trail in East Lawrence. Horn said plans call for the orchard to be open for free picking by community members.

“People can just hop off their bike and pick some fruit to sustain them,” Horn said.

Members of the Fruit Tree Project also plan to host frequent workshops at the site to teach community members about fruit production. In addition to fruit trees, the site — which will take a couple of seasons to develop — is expected to have several types of berry plants and bushes.

• A community garden at John Taylor Park at 200 N. Seventh St. in North Lawrence. Horn said the community garden will be unique because it will reserve several plots of ground to rent to children. The project, proposed by Justina Gonzalez, is planning to partner with the nearby Ballard Community Center.

• A neighborhood garden at 1304 and 1315 Pennsylvania St. The garden will be run by Michael Morley and the Sustainability Action Network. It will be open to neighborhood residents, and the project will include frequent classes on gardening and food preservation.

• A larger scale farming operation on about 1 acre of ground near the Kansas River levee at Eighth and Oak streets in North Lawrence. The project will be run by Johnson County Community College’s Sustainable Agriculture Program, which has about half dozen or more Lawrence residents as students.

Plans call for 50 percent of all the produce grown on the site to be donated to Lawrence public schools or to a local food bank, if school district officials aren’t in a position to use the produce, said Stu Shafer, coordinator for the college’s sustainable agriculture program.

“We really want to work with the schools,” said Shafer. “There are lots of studies that show kids who are exposed to fresh fruit and vegetables at a young age will eat more of them.”

JCCC plans to partner with the Community Mercantile’s Education Foundation to get the food into the schools.

If city commissioners approve the four projects on Tuesday, Horn will work to create essentially rent-free license agreements for the groups to use the city property. The growers will have to pay for any city water their crops require, but Horn said the city is seeking grant opportunities to pay for installation of water meters and hydrants on some of the sites.

Originally, Horn and the Douglas County Food Policy Council had envisioned having farms on all 13 sites that were proposed. But Horn said upon further review several of those sites had more challenges than originally thought when it came to soil quality or water availability.

“We decided to hit the pause button on some of the more complicated sites,” Horn said. “But we hope to make larger tracts available next year.”

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall.


David Holroyd 5 years ago

Oh, they will vote Yes, because it's an easy issue and it is touchy feely.

Another issue to waste time on.

Ken Lassman 5 years ago

So exactly what is wrong with voting yes on a project that is so obviously a good move and promotes better neighborhoods? And don't these characteristics mean that the topic can be dispatched with very little wasted time at all?

Congratulations on the city expanding on community gardens, a tradition in Lawrence since at least the 70s.

robertpummer 5 years ago

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classclown 5 years ago

A community orchard by Skyler Adamson and the Lawrence Fruit Tree project. The site will be near 13th and Garfield streets and along the Burroughs Creek Trail in East Lawrence. Horn said plans call for the orchard to be open for free picking by community members.

“People can just hop off their bike and pick some fruit to sustain them,” Horn said.


Why do I envision someone showing up with several baskets and picking the trees clean and then selling the fruit at the farmers market?

introversion 5 years ago

I guess we'll know who to talk to (^^^) when the trees are full one day and empty the next...

Getaroom 5 years ago

Envision whatever you like, it's the free market world you have been voting for after all. Suspicious minds do suspicious things however, watch out for the classclown - he has big feet but not all that humorous. Better join in the mass hysteria and get your CC Permit quick clown! The illegals are coming to a community garden near you - run rabbit run!!

classclown 5 years ago

Your avatar is certainly appropriate for you.

Shelley Bock 5 years ago

I have learned that many in England are very proud of their small "allotment" which they tend during the growing season. There is a waiting list for rental of these small lots of land. Those that can till the tiny plots talk about their successes and failures in growing foodstuffs. It is an admirable concept in the UK and one which Lawrence would benefit.

onceajhawkalwaysajhawk 5 years ago

Put a very large one at the homeless shelter and let them grow produce to sell at the farmers market to help offset the costs ...REALLY!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Great idea-- these should be but the first of many such gardens and orchards.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Excellent use of resources.

I say take my tax dollars from the general fund and hook up some water.

Lawrence,Kansas is not broke. This is investing in substance for a change.

Paul R Getto 5 years ago

Good idea; go for it. Portland has a program for "public" fruit trees and it seems to work pretty well.

David Reynolds 5 years ago

These gardens will fail & become low to nill producing weed patches.

The problem here what is the long term benefit to the individuals involved. It is socialism, and so unless there is benefit to the individual beyond other alternatives to keep people working in them, they will fail.

The first time I heard of these I thought of the old Communist Farms.

This is creeping communism.

MarcoPogo 5 years ago

Ah, the Domino Theory of Gardening. Bunch of "red thumbs"!

Charlie don't reap!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Citizen1 provides more proof that ideological purity is no substitute for the ability to think critically.

Getaroom 5 years ago

You simply could not be more wrong - all the way around - you are wrong.

Paul R Getto 5 years ago

"This is creeping communism." === Perhaps. Would it ease your mind if they only grew green apples and yellow tomatoes? At least they could eliminate the dreaded color 'red.'

Steve Stucky 5 years ago

Hmmmm, a collective, er community farm in lawrence. Anyone want to guess when the first marijuana plant goes in??

Kablamo 5 years ago

The community orchard sounds like a great idea. If you're going to have trees in your parks, why not fruit trees?

Kablamo 5 years ago

The Lawrence Fruit Tree Project, it would seem. However I've seen plenty of old apple trees that go on producing fruit with no maintenance whatsoever. The apples aren't as pretty, and you might get a worm here or there, but that's not the end of the world.

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