Arrow-right Camera
News >  Features >  Washington Voices

Group Helps People Start Gardens

A volunteer group is planning to build 40 or more backyard gardens this spring for low-income people in Spokane.

Some of those gardens will go onto plots on the North Side, said Lori Steiner, head of the non-profit group known as Spokane Community Gardens.

The idea is to help people who are strapped for money get started on a garden that might help them cut their food bills and provide them with the extra nutrition gained from garden-fresh vegetables, she said.

So far, the group has accepted 26 applications for new gardens and is awaiting agreements from landlords on another 10 applications, she said.

The program started two years ago with the help of an $8,000 federal community development grant. In the past two years, the group has built about 40 gardens around the city.

To be eligible, a family of four can earn up to $19,000 a year. A single person can earn no more than $13,000 a year, she said.

Volunteers build 4-by-8-foot raised-bed boxes out of lumber and fill them with topsoil. Volunteers teach families the proper planting and cultivating methods and give them seeds donated to the program.

An experienced gardener from the group helps advise each family receiving a new garden, she said.

A large family would qualify for several raised-bed boxes, while a single person might qualify for only a single bed, she said.

The raised-beds are considered more productive than regular garden plots because the soil warms quickly in the spring and remains soft and loose throughout the growing season. That’s because the gardener doesn’t walk inside the beds but, rather, reaches into them to plant, weed and harvest. The vegetables can be grown close together, maximizing the use of the space.

People who are interested in applying for the program should contact Steiner at 326-8159, or fill out an application found in newspapers published by community centers in the city. The group has about 20 volunteers to help build the gardens.

, DataTimes