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Wednesday, July 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Voices

Community gardens more than just a place to grow plants

Vegetable planting season has just begun, but it’s definitely open season for renting a box in one of our area’s community gardens.

An easy way to find a community garden near you is to check out the Spokane Community Gardens website at Most of the region’s 25 or so gardens are listed here with information about signing up for a box.

Community gardening has come a long way in the Spokane region over the last 10 years. When the Spokane Regional Health District signed me on to develop gardens here we had maybe five, mostly in the city of Spokane. Nothing in Cheney, Deer Park, Spokane Valley or Elk. In the early days, community organizations like the Northeast Community Center and some churches saw the need, helped us find space and then helped build the gardens. In 2008 a group of us were tasked by then-Mayor Mary Verner to establish a garden in every quadrant of the city. The Spokane city Water Department stepped up and offered access to land around their water storage and pumping facilities in Hillyard, East Central and across the street from Sacajawea Middle School. Shortly thereafter the Spokane Parks Board approved the development of community gardens on park property and the gardens in Grant Park and Peaceful Valley were started. In between, gardens started popping up around school grounds, churches and community and neighborhood gathering places.

This Saturday will see a special celebration of the resurrection of one of these gardens in the Emerson-Garfield neighborhood. The Chief Garry Community Garden will be celebrating its grand reopening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 2103 E. Mission Ave., on the grounds of Christ the King Anglican Church. I will be presenting a vegetable variety talk and planting demonstration at 10 a.m. while the master gardeners will be on hand with gardening information.

The Chief Garry garden started its life as the Pumphouse Garden in Hillyard as part of Mary Verner’s challenge. Due to some unforeseen circumstances the garden had to move off its Water Department site a couple of years ago, and it took a while to find a new home. Christ the King stepped up and donated a piece of their property right on Mission while the Water Department helped with the re-establishment of the garden infrastructure. The Northeast Community Center will be in charge of box rentals.

Community gardens are more than just a place to grow vegetables, fruits and flowers. They are also places where community members can come together to visit, discuss neighborhood events and issues and get out into nature. In fact, the American Community Garden Association teaches that a garden is 10 percent about growing food and 90 percent about the community around it. The Chief Garry garden is no exception, as it will host students from nearby Stevens Elementary School so they can learn about science, math, language arts and nutrition as they grow vegetables.

Pat Munts is the co-author of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook.” Munts can be reached at pat@inland

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