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Community garden awaits urban gardeners to dig in

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A new community garden has been established in Fife at Levee Pond Park. Now, all that’s needed is for people to come and claim their plot, or plots, and get plants in the ground.

A total of 54 plots have been staked on the strip of land, each of which measures 10-feet by 10-feet. Only 16 plots have been claimed so far so there are plenty left to go around. It’s affordable, too: cost for a plot for the growing season, which lasts until Dec. 31, is $15 for Fife residents and business owners and $30 for non-residents. Seniors (62 and older) and people with physical limitations will be assigned plots closer to the garden access points and water outlets when possible.

Kathy McDonald heads up the community garden volunteer committee. As a resident of Saddle Creek (and president of its homeowners association), she is delighted to now have room for a garden that’s not grown in containers on her patio. “I went to the first meeting and I said if we can make this happen I will do it,” she said of assuming leadership of the committee. “What I have heard is that basically every community garden around here has waiting lists and that’s where the majority of our interest came from because nobody could get into community gardens in Tacoma or anywhere else. So this is a really good opportunity for anyone who wants to get in on a community garden.” The garden is perfect for those who live in multi-family housing developments, townhouses, condominiums and apartments and who don’t have a way to plant gardens.

The garden is situated in an out-of-the-way section of Levee Park, which is located at 70th Avenue East and Levee Road, and just a short walk off the paved pathway. With Mount Rainier on the horizon, Levee Pond nearby and the garden receiving full sun all day, gardeners are sure to have a bountiful harvest from what they plant. Jake Sterino of Sterino Farms and a team of volunteers from New Life Adventist Ministry in Fife donated their time and energies to prep the garden soil.

“This was all done by volunteers, out of the kindness of their own hearts. They did the majority of the labor, which was very, very kind of them,” McDonald said. “We would not have been able to do it without them.”

Kurt Reuter is Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director for Fife. He said the notion to launch a community garden took root several years ago but until now it was one of the projects waiting in the wings.

“This year we had a renewed interest on the part of Deputy Mayor (Pat) Hulcey and a couple other folks, including Park Board Member Carol Sue Bratten, so that’s what got it going,” Reuter said, noting that McDonald stepping up to lead the charge was the final step. “Karen and her group have been terrific.”

City’s Public Works department is now installing a water line for the garden, which is set to be completed in days.

Reuter said he’s hoping that many more urban gardeners will take advantage of this opportunity to participate in Fife’s community garden, not to mention that the growing season for summer produce is well on its way.

“We have lots of plots left available. We’ve got the space and we’re hoping folks will take us up on it,” he said.

There are certain rules of use that garden participants are required to follow, such as not growing produce for personal consumption only – no commercial purposes – and gardeners are encouraged to donate extra produce to local food banks. Gardeners are also required to completely disassemble their gardens at the end of the season so that the ground can be plowed up for next year. A year-round garden may come in the future.

“We’re investigating doing that so people can rent and maintain them year-round,” McDonald said.

Those interested in securing space in the Fife community garden can pick up an application at Fife City Hall, 5411 23rd St. E., or through the city’s website at http://www.cityoffife.org.

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