Got a Green Thumb? Visit MCC's Community Garden
Mesa Community College’s Southern and Dobson Campus has just the spot for Valley residents who have a green thumb but lack the land where they can nurture a garden of flowers or vegetables into full bloom.
On the southeast corner of the campus, local gardeners can rent their own piece of earth for $80 a year per 10-foot by 20-foot plot. The garden is operated by faculty and students of the MCC Urban Horticulture program to promote interest in gardening.
“It’s a good way for people to get to know each other on campus and in the community,” said Peter Conden, program director of MCC’s Urban Horticulture program. “We’d like to encourage people to come to the campus.”
Phase One of the garden has 20 out of 40 plots still available. When those are full, another 40 plots will be made available during Phase Two. The fee includes access to water and drip irrigation. Gardeners provide their own tools and assistance with rototillers is available. Those who sign up now can get summer rent for free. The year’s rent begins Sept. 1 and runs through Aug. 31.
Conden said plans are also in the works for future Farmer’s Markets and perhaps a lecture series on gardening, although the application states that “the essence of community gardening is trial and error and sharing of knowledge.”
“Community Gardens are really popular now,” Conden said. “They come and go with the state of the economy. Right now, with the poor economy, there’s a lot of interest.”
Students are also encouraged to become active in the garden project. The program has set aside eight plots for student clubs to till and plant for free if they donate the crops to local food banks as part of a service learning project.
Bill Peschka, an MCC business instructor, and his wife, Ann, are preparing to plant vegetables in their plot soon. They have a garden at their own home, but Ann is an enthusiastic gardener who wanted to grown more of a variety of crops, including artichoke, tomatoes, okra, eggplant and squash.
“It’s a way to grow nutritious vegetables easily, plus it’s enjoyable,” Bill said. “The garden has a good cross section of people and a communal aspect.”
For gardener and MCC student Alejandro Delfin, the garden is a good way to get his 5 children involved in an outdoor activity. He found out about the garden while showing his kids the horses and goats next door to the garden area.
“I talked to one of the students who told me about the garden,” Delfin said. “Yesterday we planted corn, squash and sunflowers. My kids love it.”
Delfin, who grew up in both Mexico and California, said sharing this aspect of his native Mexican culture with his children, ages 4-16, is important to him.
“It’s part of our culture, to let the kids know that the earth is alive and if you work with her, she’ll work with you.”
Conden said he’s looking forward to seeing a variety of crops begin to bloom in the garden plots.
“People have been really interested in this project,” he said. “I’d like to see the whole area full.”