Organizers of Payson’s first community garden are starting to see the first blooms of progress after several months of fevered planning and plotting.
Thanks to a recent donation from the Gila County Board of Supervisors, a fence for the garden is going up Friday and organizers hope someone will donate pipes so they can run water lines to 100 individual plots.
Roger Kreimeyer, who is spearheading the project, said construction work could wrap up by April 12, with planting soon after.
Residents can reserve a plot in the garden for $50 and Kreimeyer suggests gardeners begin germinating their seeds now.
So far, more than a dozen residents have signed up for plots, which are 8 x 15 feet or 120 square feet.
The first phase will include roughly 100 plots, each connected to a central water line. Residents must install their own drip lines and decide if they want an in-ground or raised-bed garden. Residents must also buy their own seeds and care for their own plot.
The garden, located in an empty field east of Payson First Church of the Nazarene, off Tyler Parkway, is so far just churned dirt. But in a few months, Kreimeyer envisions vegetables, fruit and herbs will be sprouting.
Kreimeyer started the garden project after he saw a need for fresh fruits and vegetables at local food banks. Traditionally, food banks hand out canned goods, meat and frozen meat to the needy. In the last few years, however, food banks have seen an increasing demand while at the same time there has been a decrease in supplies from the federal food bank and for Payson’s St. Vincent de Paul, a cut in shipments from the Valley St. Vincent due to overwhelming demand around the state.
Kreimeyer organizes and helps run the Payson Area Food Drive, which for the past few years has brought in thousands of dollars in donations and tens of thousands of pounds of food.
When the food drive wrapped up in February, Kreimeyer said he realized a community garden could help supplement local food banks with fresh food and help them through the summer months.
Kreimeyer hopes gardeners will donate 20 percent of their crops to local food banks.
Once construction is finished, the garden will be open every day but Sunday.
And for those novice growers, Star Valley’s Plant Fair Nursery will have both raised-bed and in-ground garden plots for inspiration and education, Kreimeyer said.
Nursery owner Glen McCombs will also host free seminars every Saturday on various gardening topics both at Plant Fair and at the community garden. McCombs will host a class on soil preparation April 7 at the nursery.
Many more people are donating their time and expertise constructing the garden. Roy Haught helped with the groundwork and has agreed to dig the ditches for the water lines.
Organizers need donations of 1-, 1.5- or 2-inch PVC piping and fittings for the water lines and volunteers to help supervise the garden during open hours. Contact Kreimeyer at (928) 468-1365 to volunteer. Contact Joann Roethlein at (928) 474-3766 to reserve a plot. Make donations to the non-profit Rim Country Arizonans for Children and mail to P.O. Box 3476, Payson, AZ 85547.