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Liberty Lake adds more beds for community garden program

Sat., April 6, 2013

Michelle Griffin stands amid planters on Wednesday, at the arboretum located behind City Hall in Liberty Lake. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Michelle Griffin stands amid planters on Wednesday, at the arboretum located behind City Hall in Liberty Lake. (Tyler Tjomsland)

The community garden at Liberty Lake’s arboretum has expanded – thanks to its popularity last year.

The garden was fully reserved last year as were the 11 raised beds at Rocky Hill Park. The city took a look at its waiting list last fall and added four beds at the end of the growing season and another eight in March.

It’s an expansion that wasn’t expected to happen for a while. “We didn’t think it would take off this fast,” said Parks and Recreation coordinator Michelle Griffin.

This is the third season the city will provide the dirt, hoses, water, compost and gardening tools, Griffin said. “We haven’t had any of them walk off, which is amazing,” she said.

The raised beds are 3,000-pound concrete boxes designed to look like painted wood. The city paid $600 for each bed, plus more for special soil.

“You don’t want just any dirt,” said Parks and Open Space Superintendent Jennifer Camp. “It’s good quality garden soil.”

Gardeners must use organic gardening methods. The gardens are surrounded by a high fence to keep out deer and moose. “It has kept out all the critters so far,” Griffin said.

The gardens are unlocked for now. Last summer, combination locks were added at Rocky Hill after reports of children taking produce.

“If kids want fresh produce, they can just ask,” Griffin said. Most gardeners already participate in the Plant a Row for the Hungry program and donate some produce to the food bank, she said. “We’ll try it without locks again and see how it goes.”

The garden in the arboretum, which is tucked behind City Hall on Country Vista Drive, is designed to be accessible to nearby residents. “My goal is that people can walk or bike here and have all the stuff they need,” she said.

The beds cost $20 per season and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis beginning in January. There is no preference given to people who had a garden in previous years and people can petition to have the fee waived if they can’t afford it. “I wanted to make it fair,” Griffin said.

The Rocky Hill Park beds were full a week after registration opened but there are still four spots available in the arboretum, probably because people don’t realize how many beds have been added, she said.

The gardeners who have signed up are ready to go, Camp said. “They’re getting antsy,” she said. “We’re going to bring the compost in so they can start working the beds.”

Anyone interested in reserving one of the available garden beds can call Griffin at (509) 755-6726.

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