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Public gardens growing in popularity

October 4, 2011

The IMACA Community Sustainable Agriculture garden in Lone Pine and garden intern Leonel Bolanos. Interest in community gardens has exploded following the nation’s recession of 2008. Photo submitted

Community gardens have been sprouting up like wild flowers in Inyo County.
A response to the economic recession, the high price of fuel, lack of other resources and the ever-growing prices of products at grocery stores, the plots, according to a local organizer, have been a success.
Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action has helped residents and organizations throughout the county set up productive gardens for the past few years.
Jane McDonald, IMACA’s Community Services director, said the agency is still trying to access exactly how much garden produce has been grown in the nine or more gardens in the county. One estimate suggests more than $1,000 worth of produce has been harvested from the Lone Pine area alone.
There are five community gardens in Lone Pine, one in Darwin, one in Independence, and shared plots at the Community Garden at the Bishop City Park.
The gardens are “an instant reaction to the recession,” McDonald said, noting that with smaller budgets comes a greater interest in food-related self-sufficiency. She said the interest in both Inyo and Mono counties has been explosive, with no signs of waning yet.
In communities like Independence and Darwin, community gardens are an inexpensive way to have fresh produce, as neither has a local market.
She added that for all people of all cultures, growing food is a way to “reclaim part of our history.”
A community garden includes plots or rows of dirt for folks who don’t have the space or means to grow themselves. IMACA also supplies seeds and water. IMACA, along with Inyo County’s Master Gardeners, also supplies the much needed know-how and growing tips to help fledgling gardeners. Some of the produce goes directly to those in need through IMACA’s many food pantries. Some of the bounty is transported and shared with Tecopa, as that hamlet has problems with both soil and water, making gardens difficult to sustain. McDonald added that Tecopa has displayed an interest in gardening and it will take some more time and “exciting collaborations” to see that to fruition.
Lone Pine even has an intern program, a sort of hands-on Master Gardener’s program, McDonald said, taught by Julie Fought, a member of California’s Community Sustainable Agriculture.
And, IMACA will be helping people to grow year-round. There will be a free workshop about gardening throughout the year scheduled for 9 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Oct. 22.
McDonald added the interest in growing for next year is already high. She added there is still space available at the Bishop and Independence gardens.
The Metabolic Studio has made generous monetary contributions to the gardens, McDonald added.
For more information about IMACA’s community garden, call (760) 873-8557 go to its website at imaca.net or e-mail to info@imaca.net.

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