July 7, 2011 in Washington Voices

Public garden takes shape in Peaceful Valley

Project under construction has a waiting list
By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Naseeb Bhangal and Taylor Weech of the Youth Sustainability Council, dumps a wheelbarrow of dirt into a raised garden bed, June 28, 2011 that will grow tomatoes at the Earth Turners Community Garden in Peaceful Valley.
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location
Center seeks name change

The Peaceful Valley Community Center, at 214 N. Cedar St., is seeking to change its name to Lower Falls Community Center. Center director Mark Reilly said the new name will more accurately reflect the area served by the community center.

“We have kids here from the South Hill, too, not just from Peaceful Valley,” Reilly said.

The name change has yet to be approved by the state. For years the center has been looking to expand to make more room for its children’s programs as well as its food and clothing banks. Last year, an expansion planto add 1,500 square feet to the south end of the building was estimated to cost around $500,000. “We keep working at it,” said Reilly. “Maybe one day we’ll make it.”

Volunteers are always needed at the center for children’s activities, to give talks and short programs about various hobbies, and to help with grant writing and fundraising.

Phone: (509) 624-8634

It seems to be the year of the community garden. Earlier this year, volunteers began putting in a garden in Grant Park on the South Hill, and now another garden on Parks Department property is coming to life in Peaceful Valley.

Located on the River Walk – a strip of park land just south of the river, off Water Avenue, west of the Peaceful Valley Community Center – the Peaceful Valley Community Garden will feature 27 raised beds when it’s completed, and it already has a waiting list.

“We had to limit access to people who actually live in Peaceful Valley, or it would have gotten out of control,” said Taylor Weech, who runs the garden program Earth Turners for Community-Minded Enterprises.

More than half of the beds are already in, and there’s water, too. On a hot afternoon last week volunteers were hauling dirt in a wheelbarrow to fill up the beds.

“We had a promise of a front-end loader but it didn’t quite work out,” said Weech.

Earth Turners consists entirely of high school-age youth.

Weech said the group will be working with children at Peaceful Valley Community Center, showing them how to grow vegetables and how to make healthy meals from what they harvest.

“We want to expose the kids to the benefits of a community garden,” said Weech. “We want them to know where a tomato comes from and that they can actually grow things.”

Big signs on the planted beds explain the various crops and plants, their nutrition value and health benefits. Produce raised by Earth Turners will be sold at Spokane farmers markets and a portion will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.

A fence is coming soon, but visitors are welcome to self-guided tours.

“We are getting there,” said Weech. “We are also learning a lot as the garden goes in.”

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