By Kelcy Faimalo
The Carbon County Food Bank and the USU Eastern Extension began the planning and preparation for their annual community garden in a kickoff meeting Wednesday.
This year, the plans include implementing a new high tunnel, which is in essence an unheated greenhouse that will allow for plants to be planted earlier and protect them from winds and early frosts. High tunnels also allow the soil and air to warm up sooner and, according to USU Eastern Extension Agriculture Agent Ron Patterson, provide a manageable way to protect the plants.
Patterson said that using high tunnels lets workers plant their garden quite a bit earlier in the season, which will allow a longer harvesting season and a longer period to enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of their labor.
“You can get things on quite a lot earlier, which is good if you’re looking at marketing or something like that, or if you’re just looking to have bragging rights of the first tomatoes available.” Patterson said.
Last year, the community garden produced over 3,000 pounds of produce including cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, beans and corn. All of the produce was donated to the food bank, which directly benefits the community.
This year, IFA, who worked with the community garden last year, is also putting a beehive in the garden to help pollinate the plants. All the honey generated by the hive will also be donated to the food bank.
IFA department manager Doug Warden said that the business is committed to using their buying power to allow the community garden to get the biggest bang for their buck.
“If there’s any kind of shortfall, the community usually comes through by donating extra plants and doing the things they need to in order to help the garden get started,” Warden said.
Price City provides the land and the water for the garden, so those responsibilities are taken care of. However, one of the most essential elements to help the garden thrive is volunteers. Once the garden is planted, groups will be able to adopt a row, or several, to keep weed-free and healthy.
“Weeding is probably our biggest priority once we get everything planted,” Warden said. “We just need help keeping that garden cleaned up so we can get the most out of what we plant.”
Geri Gamber, the community service program manager, said the garden needs all the volunteers it can get. The garden will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, according to Gamber, they are willing to let volunteers come at any time as long as they call ahead.
The USU Eastern Extension will be hosting a high tunnel class on Feb. 21 to teach the public about the benefits of high tunnels. The class will begin at 10 a.m. at the Carbon County Event Center and will finish with a demonstration and establishment of the high tunnel at the community garden.