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Tue, April 23

Community Garden plans mid-October grand opening

Cindy Barks/The Daily Courier<br>
Prescott Community Gardens President Colleen Sorensen stands in front of the sign for the new Granite Creek Park-area garden, which is set to open on Oct. 15.

Cindy Barks/The Daily Courier<br> Prescott Community Gardens President Colleen Sorensen stands in front of the sign for the new Granite Creek Park-area garden, which is set to open on Oct. 15.

PRESCOTT - After a summer of wrapping up the details for a new community garden, organizers say the opening is now imminent.

The garden originally was slated to open this past spring, but Prescott Community Gardens President Colleen Sorensen said that some tasks caused organizers to push off the opening until fall.

The group is planning a grand opening at the garden site in Granite Creek Park on Saturday, Oct. 15.

By that time, Sorensen said, about 10 garden plots will be available for lease for people who are interested in experimenting with fall/winter gardening.

By spring, Sorensen said, an additional 10 beds will be ready (for a total of 20) for summer gardening.

Eventually, the group plans to have about 70 raised plots available on the one-third-acre parcel near Granite Creek Park's Greenways Trail, the Arizona Public Service (APS) yard and substation, and the Sam Hill Warehouse.

For the initial 10 plots, Sorensen and other garden board members say that some hardy plants should be able to survive Prescott's mild fall weather.

For instance, organizer Joy Koressel suggested that gardeners could try growing garlic, greens, kale, and chards.

Sorensen added that the organization would equip the raised garden beds with brackets for double-hoop-house gardening, which would provide insulation for the plants. The process adds about 10 degrees to the temperature of the plots, Sorensen said, allowing for more growing opportunities.

Sorensen, who has been working on the community garden as a part of her master's degree, said the process has taken longer than she expected.

"This is my master's so it's been a good education," Sorensen said.

After years of looking for a site, the community garden group approached the City of Prescott this past spring about use of the Granite Creek Park land. In late April, the Prescott City Council approved a five-year lease for the land.

Since then, Sorensen said the group has been working on a number of infrastructure details, including the installation of water lines and six hydrants, new fencing, and an entrance sign.

The fencing will offer protection from rabbits and other wildlife, Sorensen said, noting that it includes a layer of tightly woven hardware cloth near the bottom, along with a higher layer of livestock fencing, and a split-rail fence that was already in place.

This weekend, the group plans to install gates, which will allow for the garden to be locked after hours.

Another detail that has slowed down the opening has been the paperwork for nonprofit status.

Sorensen hopes the garden will become a center for education and activities. Already, on Thursday evening, Prescott College students were conducting a Harvest Festival at the garden, showcasing agricultural projects from their Food Preservation and Seed Conservation class.

Prescott College senior West Howland, who was busy pressing apples into cider, explained that the class "gleaned" the fruit from a number of sources, including the neighborhood surrounding the garden, and the Slide Rock State Park near Sedona.

"A lot of people don't realize they own apple trees," Howland said. Students offered to pick the apples for the owners, he said, and ended up with hundreds of pounds of the fruit, which they used for a variety of purposes.

Once the garden is open, Sorensen said, parking would be available at the public parking lot on Montezuma Street, which is adjacent to the Greenways trailhead.

The Oct. 15 grand opening will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More information about the garden is available online at www.prescottcommunitygardens.org.

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