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Wed, Oct. 16

Community garden plots now available

Roberto Ortega, right, and other volunteers ready the Prescott Valley Community Garden by spreading wood chips along the pathways this past Saturday morning.<br>
Trib Photo/Sue Tone

Roberto Ortega, right, and other volunteers ready the Prescott Valley Community Garden by spreading wood chips along the pathways this past Saturday morning.<br> Trib Photo/Sue Tone

Pick a plot to plant pickling peppers at the new Prescott Valley Community Garden located behind the Albertson's store at the northwest corner of Lake Valley and Florentine roads.

Volunteers have tilled the ground, fertilized, and laid the irrigation system on one-quarter of an available acre donated by the Fain Signature Group for use as a community garden, said Bonnie Flores, project manager.

About half the garden is ready for private plots measuring 10 feet by 15 feet each. A Children's Garden and the community garden make up the other half. Renters pay $60 for the 2011 season, and water is free.

The Town of Prescott Valley installed a water meter, and has budgeted $1,000 worth of donated water service for fiscal year 2010-2011.">Arizona Public Service donated machinery to dig trenches for irrigation, $1,000 towards the pipes, and wood chips that line the pathways.

The Northern Arizona Council for Governments paid for 6-foot chain link fencing that will enclose the garden. A $1,000 donation from Ron Barnes, who heads up the Hungry Kids Program, helps with soil amendments, Flores said. And a local farm donated goat manure.

"We have some pretty good soil for this part of town," she said this past Saturday.

Flores said rabbit and goat manure could go directly into the soil, as well as aged steer and chicken manure. However, she would like to check out all manure make sure it is "preferred poop," as she calls it.

The entire garden is organic, and users may not apply pesticides or chemicals.

A timed drip system will serve all garden plots, eliminating over- or under-watering. A master gardener oversees the project.

People may work in the 2,520-square-foot community garden or their own plot. Volunteers will offer activities in the Children's Garden.

Sandy Lundgren, a master gardener from Oregon, has worked in the nursery business for years in Chino Valley, at ACE Hardware and Watters Garden Center. She will start local master gardening classes this month.

"I'm retired ­­- this is my first year - and I've got to go find something to do," Lundgren said.

She plans to work in the community plot, help with the herb section, and maybe plant some flowers. She already is planning activities, such as how to identify good bugs and bad bugs, and the importance of having both in one's garden.

"There's a balance you have to find. If you want the ladybugs, you don't go out and kill their food," she said.

Plans for the harvest include donations to Yavapai Food Bank, CASA Meals on Wheels, and the Hungry Kids project.

Flores said she is looking into growing more exotic plants like heritage tomatoes, herbs and snow peas that garden members could sell at the Farmer's Market to generate "seed" money. Other plans include partnering with high school and middle school students with special needs, offering fresh produce cooking lessons, and painting a mural on the nearby block wall.

Volunteers are out in the garden almost every Saturday; call ahead (Bonnie Flores at 772-3308 or Peggy Clay at 759-9390) to make sure someone is there. Garden Coordinator Ramon Ortega said, in addition to volunteers, the Community Garden could use shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, hoses, buckets, and a shed to store equipment.

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