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Community invited to help ‘Get This Garden Started’

March 22, 2012

Gardeners – newbies and veterans alike – gather at the Bishop Community Garden on March 10 for a workshop on building raised beds. The well-attended event is part of a series of workshops being hosted by the Inyo-Mono Master Gardeners Program. Photo by Marilyn Blake Philip

Park at the corner of Hanby and East Pine behind Sterling Heights.
The Bishop Community Garden is the love child of the Friends of Eastern Sierra Gardens, the University of California Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Program and Bishop City Park.
It was born in April 2010 through the efforts of “a committed group of Master Gardeners (who) began the Bishop Community Garden (with) two goals (in mind): to create a demonstration garden to serve as an educational tool for locals to learn about best practices for gardening; and to provide space for local residents to garden, allowing them to grow fresh local foods and promote a healthy community,” says the Inyo-Mono Master Gardener Program web site, ucanr.org/sites/mginyomo.
This core group secured a half-acre space in the City Park, created the design and raised funds to begin the project, the web site states. The group broke ground a year later in April 2011 with the help of community volunteers and businesses, installing irrigation, amending the soil and so on to prepare for the first season. Community applications came through for 30 plots.
“The Community Garden area of Bishop Park was envisioned as a garden with long-term public involvement in its care and maintenance, offering opportunities for horticultural educational programs and individual plots for residents of the Bishop community,” says the 2012 Bishop Community Garden contract. It goes on to state that the garden is governed by the City of Bishop and that the city, Friends of Eastern Sierra Gardens, and University of California Cooperative Extension’s Inyo-Mono Master Gardeners Program will manage the Community Garden programs and plots.
The contract reminds the public that “gardening in the Community Garden is not exactly like gardening in your own backyard, because how you care for your plot affects your neighbors’ plots as well.” Therefore, policies are in place about how and when certain things must be done, encouraging the use of organic gardening methods to “enhance food safety, ground water quality, and a healthy ecosystem.”
According to community gardeners organizers, “it will add to the beauty of the park and service as an educational tool for locals to learn about best practices for gardening. The community garden will provide space for residents of the community with limited land to garden, allowing them to grow fresh local foods and promoting a healthy community.”
Residents who want to garden but don’t have the space or who simply are interested in the communal gardening experience are encouraged to submit an application for Community Gardens plots until April 9. Applications are available at the Master Gardeners office at 207 W. South St., (760) 872-2098, weekdays, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and can be downloaded from the Bishop Community Garden website, easternsierragardens.org/
The Community Garden is an organic, evolving entity. The latest addition is sturdy redwood raised bed boxes built by Master Gardener Daniel Sprague and local gardener Jason Chinchen, at the March 10 raised bed workshop. Workshop attendees learned how to prepare the ground with a sure-fire method to prevent invasion by unwanted weeds and gophers using newspaper, weed cloth and hardware cloth or chicken wire.
Master Gardener workshops advocate the use of “Reduce Reuse Recycle’ materials like versatile, everlasting cinder blocks, electrical and EMT conduit, newspaper and horse manure as well as products such as naturally anti-fungal redwood, durable metal brackets with a built-in spigot and garden hose connection, soaker hoses, Agricloth, and lazar line.
The March 10 workshop was coordinated by Master Gardeners Patricia Schlichting, Bobbie Styffeler and Rosie Howard. Howard is also one of the co-founders of Bishop Community Garden.
Master Gardeners was thrilled at the turnout for Raise Bed Gardening. They only expected about 10 or 20 people but “about 90 came. We are very excited by the turnout of people who are interested in growing produce in their own yards, especially as local market produce prices continue to rise. Growing your own food can be more affordable, you know what’s in it and it’s fresh, not trucked in” from hundreds of miles away,” said Master Gardener Program Coordinator Hannah Murray.
There will be a Seed and Garden Exchange Saturday March 24, 10 a.m.-noon at Methodist Church Social Hall in Independence where gardeners can exchange seeds, tools, supplies and knowledge with one another. At the Community Garden itself, there will be a “Let’s Get This Garden Started” workshop from noon-1 p.m.
Saturday’s workshop theme will be cool-season gardening. It will cover soil mixes, composting, seeding, protecting crops from spring frost and hoop houses. The flyer also promises that attendees will “receive a cool-season planting guide and plenty of great ideas.”
We are “trying to let people know what they can do now, even though there are still frosts or freezes,” said Murray. For instance, there are “things (gardeners) can start now indoors and plants that can withstand cool temperatures.”
The Eastern Sierra is a very challenging area in which to garden but “you can garden year-round depending on how much work you want to put into it,” stressed Murray.
The Master Gardeners program mission is to “educate people and connect the resources of the University of California to local backyard gardeners,” said Murray, who added that they have developed resources such as the local foods resource guide and local spring and falls freeze dates chart, which is based on a 30-year study of local freeze dates, to make University of California findings relevant to local gardeners.
Those who would like to contribute to the Community Garden, and perhaps learn more about gardening to boot, are encouraged to come out to the park early on Saturday. The Community Workday session is from 10 a.m.-noon and volunteers participate in the ongoing efforts to get the garden ready for planting. Students can earn community service hours.
For more information about the Community Garden, call Gail Swain at (760) 872-2428 or visit www.ucanr.org/inyomono. For more information about the Master Gardeners, call (760) 872-2098 or visit camastergardeners.ucdavis.edu.

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