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New concept for Westside Community Center garden - run it as cooperative

Oct. 15, 2018
       Since its development in 2010, the garden at the Westside Community Center has operated much like others on public land.
       Individuals - typically people with no garden space where they live - would rent one or more plots and grow what they could.
       That's going to change in 2019. Pikes Peak Urban Gardens (PPUG), which worked with Westside to start the garden and has managed it ever since, plans to step
The garden at the Westside Community Center is seen in August of this year. A secured gate prevents unauthorized access.
Westside Pioneer photo
aside for a volunteer group that wants it to operate as a cooperative.
       There will still be a fee to use the garden: $145, which includes water. But instead of having a plot of their own, participants will be broken out into teams that will jointly tend sections of the garden on a rotating basis.
       People “aren't renting space, they're becoming part of the garden,” summarized Richard Mee, a member of the new group, consisting of five people who are tentatively calling themselves the Westside Community Center Garden Development Team.
       A two-page Development Team document outlines the “benefits of this approach,” which include working with other gardeners (good for socialization and education), obtaining more produce “as all the crops in the entire garden will be shared amongst everyone,” and being “part of a unique model of gardening [that] may even serve as a prototype for other community gardens.”
       The commitment will be all year, starting this December.
       Mee, a retired interior/exterior designer who lives about two blocks away, said a big part of his inspiration came from watching the tribulations of unknowledgeable people trying to garden on their own. “They tend to fail,” he said, “and then they don't garden anymore. This [the cooperative concept] is to not let them get discouraged.”
       He's also hopeful that the plan will lead to more of the garden being used. For example, last year when he and others with the Garden Development Team decided to get involved, more than 20 of the space's 72 plots were available to them.
       The Westside Center supports the volunteer cooperative idea, according to its assistant director, Tracie Dear, who said in a recent interview that it provides community-building possibilities.
       The center is run through an outreach arm of Woodmen Valley Chapel under a contract with Colorado Springs Parks.
       Mee added that PPUG (a nonprofit organization), is also in accord and has agreed to remain involved to some extent.
       He conceded, however, that the change to a cooperative style has not been happily received by some of the center's former gardeners, who liked the old format of having individual plots to take care of.
       For more information about the Westside Community Garden, call the center at 385-7920 x100, or drop by its office at 1628 W. Bijou St.

Westside Pioneer article
(Community : Westside Community Center)

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