Visit the Glenwood Community Garden this month, and you’ll find many a local green thumb already at work preparing plots for the upcoming growing season.
“A gardener never stops,” says Karen Garrison, the garden’s manager. “There is always something that can be fixed or improved, even in winter. So just imagine that in springtime, when things begin to warm up, we have a lot to do here.”
Flanked by a striking natural landscape at one end and parking lots, big box stores, and development at the other, the garden’s location along Wulfsohn Road near the Glenwood Meadows shopping center seems a curious one at first glance. Dig a little deeper, though, and its champions—both the leaders who keep it running and the gardeners who work its plots—will tell you that the garden is situated perfectly right where it’s at.
“You walk in those gates and the tranquility is resounding,” Garrison observes. The garden’s board president Kirsten Gauthier-Newbury agrees, adding, “We serve a park-like presence in this area of town. Visitors from the hotels, Wulfsohn trail hikers, residents from the nearby apartments, and other people passing through all enjoy coming here. Last year, for the first time, we added a guestbook and had guests from 24 states, China, and Germany represented.”
In the decade since the Glenwood city council granted the garden’s founders permission to realize their vision for an official public growing space, Gauthier-Newbury notes that the nonprofit garden has evolved into something much bigger than simply a place to grow flowers. In recent years, it has served as an important intersection of education, volunteerism, food donation, and local ecology as well.
“We want the public to know that we have been working toward our long-term vision for the garden, which is to continue making it into something that benefits a variety of community members,” she says. “We’ve got around 120 volunteer gardeners, but it’s not just about us tending our own plots. Young students come here to learn during the school year, local businesses send work teams for staff development days, and we actively keep butterfly bushes and a beehive to protect pollinators in the area.”
The garden also keeps six donation plots managed by Garrison, which have produced thousands of pounds of fresh, organic produce for Garfield County Senior Programs’ nutrition services.
“Our donations fed 1,150 people last year,” reports Garrison, who has been a gardener for much of her life. “My style of gardening is concentrated, intensive ‘French gardening,’ so I’m able to grow an awful lot of food in a small amount of space.”
To celebrate 10 years of successful growth, the Glenwood Community Garden will host a special farm-to-table dinner on July 18, during the blissful height of summer. It is also offering informal open house hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday throughout the month of April, when interested locals can stop by to meet Garrison and other gardeners for more information about getting involved. Plots are still available for the 2019 season; applications are available at GlenwoodCommunityGarden.com.
And even if digging in the dirt isn’t your thing, the garden is still open to the public for strolling and admiring others’ efforts. Visit this year and look for Garrison’s impressive squash hoops, for example, and for fruits, vegetables, and botanicals of all kinds lovingly tended by Glenwood locals. Or, just walk through and enjoy the area’s peace and quiet.
“Give nature a chance,” Garrison wisely says, “and it’ll surprise you every time.”