Cool weather and overcast skies on May 12 did not stop dozens of Arvadans from celebrating the grand opening of Rose Roots, the city’s new community garden.
The garden is located on 15 acres of Arvada property at 84th Avenue and Alkire Street. When it is complete, Rose Roots will include two acres of community plots, five acres of community-supported agriculture through Star Acre Farms and an acre of orchards.
Gina Schley, president of Rose Roots, said the idea for the community garden was first planted three years ago. She said she met Celia Amadec from Star Acre Farms during a local food conference in Denver, and a collaboration blossomed.
With the help of City Councilman Bob Dyer and other City of Arvada representatives, the idea was developed, and the City Council approved the garden in January 2011. More than 130 volunteers helped build Rose Roots, including volunteers from Leadership Arvada, Sustain Arvada, Denver Urban Gardens, Star Acre Farms, surrounding neighborhoods and more.
The community is now reaping the benefits, Schley said.
”Personally, I’ve wanted it for a long time,” she said. “We have big houses and small plots. I have kids, so I wanted to teach them where food comes from. The community garden started as education for kids and to support local food.”
“I think this is an amazing opportunity for local food,” said Jackie Raehl, a co-owner of Star Acre Farms. “I’m really grateful that we are part of this project. I feel really lucky that we’ll be able to feed part of Arvada, and people right across the sidewalk can feed their families. It’s really exciting.”
The food grown on Star Acre Farm’s community-supported agriculture plots will be sold at area farmer’s markets.
The garden is about much more than just growing food and gardening though, Schley said.
”It’s a lot about food and supporting local food, but so much too about supporting community and building strong roots for the community,” she said. “It’s just as much about building community as it is about gardening.”
The garden currently has about 70 community garden plots already rented, with about 60 more to be added next year. The plots, many of which are already being planted, allow for plenty of socializing with new neighbors. Niki Barbon, a senior at Ralston Valley High School, said she joined the garden to build better relationships with her neighbors.
“It’s to have fun and get your hands dirty,” Barbon said. “It’s really fun. You’re meeting everyone you don’t know in our neighborhood because our neighborhood is so big. It’s super fun being out here with all your neighbors.”
Arvada residents can be put on the waiting list to receive a plot once more are built by visiting the Rose Roots website at www.roserootsgarden.org. However, Schley said, she welcomes everyone to visit Rose Roots, whether they are gardeners or not.
“We want it to be an open-door garden, to invite people in, get them excited and intrigue them,” she said. “We want to tie in the community, tie in young families. Everyone should feel welcome to come in, enjoy the garden, ask questions and take classes.”