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Lawrence commissioners to determine whether to create four community gardens

February 6, 2012

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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.

Comments

whatthehell 2 years, 2 months ago

I would think that there would be no pesticides used. I would not be happy to hop off my bike and eat fruit that had been sprayed. Some crops can get by with being sprayed before fruit appears, others no. Then again, what did we do before all these pesticides were available? We lived with occasional worm issues and we lived with some years having bad crops. Go organic.

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Kablamo 2 years, 2 months ago

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

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ssteve1 2 years, 2 months ago

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

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CWGOKU 2 years, 2 months ago

I am having a Nam flashback...

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citizen1 2 years, 2 months 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.

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 2 months ago

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

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months 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.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

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

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onceajhawkalwaysajhawk 2 years, 2 months 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!

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Roland Gunslinger 2 years, 2 months ago

"Lawrence commissioners to determine whether to create four community gardens"

Where's the "or" portion to follow whether in this headline? Shouldn't it be "whether or not to create"?

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Shelley Bock 2 years, 2 months 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.

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classclown 2 years, 2 months 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.

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

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robertpummer 2 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 2 months ago

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

Another issue to waste time on.

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