Ranch Community Garden: Setting Beds

The tools of the trade. Yes, those are Tonka trucks.

The countdown is on until opening day for the Ranch Community Garden where I will be having a garden plot all of my own. The workdays are getting longer as they hustle to get everything in. Today, we finished setting the frames for the raised beds and filling them with dirt. It was a lot of beds, there are 120 in total and not quite half had been put in already, but just over a dozen people came and went throughout the day as schedules and sore muscles dictated, so the task wasn’t overwhelming.

I like the way the raised beds were handled. In a community garden like this, it is necessary to have the plots clearly delineated. The frames do that, showing clearly where each 4’x8′ plot begins and ends. However, instead of filling the frame with imported soil, we were digging the frame into the ground a little and filling it with the partially amended dirt that was already in the garden. Over the winter, the soil for the garden plot had been covered by wood mulch to start it decomposing into the soil and to protect it from

Partially done as we move down the line.

drying out excessively. What we were shoveling into the gardens was the mostly decomposed wood mulch and the soil it had been protecting. I think that amending the soil and then adding a frame to mostly just delineate the bed is a good way to go for someone who has the time for the amendments to be worked into the soil and has soil they don’t mind using. It is certainly cheaper and has a smaller carbon footprint than importing soil to fill a frame.

The garden is on the grounds of the Beth-El Mennonite Church. The founder of the garden is a member of the church, and they had land that suited his needs, so they were able to help him get the idea under way. Each time I have been out to help with the set-up, there were church members helping out, too. Most of them weren’t going to have plots, they were just volunteering in their community. I actually had a very interesting conversation this afternoon with one of the members about community and comparative religions. Being Colorado Springs, conversations about religion are bound to happen eventually. The conversation we were having, I feel, was starting to build community in the garden. When you work with people for several hours, you’re bound to talk about something. It was very interesting to have a deeper conversation than I was expecting, and it reinforced my hope that being part of the community garden will help me to build my community.

Two days worth of work. I like the subtle terraced effect the slight slope of the hill gives to the beds.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back there myself, but there are several more work days coming up if you happen to be in the area. There are also available beds, if you feel the need to play in the dirt with the rest of us. Once the garden is open, there will be plots set aside for a local food bank that I’m sure will be able to use the occasional afternoon of community work. In the meantime it’s back to nursing sore muscles and missing the calluses I used to have on my hands.

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