Water and labor are key factors for a successful growing season at the Our Prescott Valley Community Garden. Plot renters and volunteers do the "dirty" (hands-on) work, and the water is free - for yet another year or so, thanks to a donation of $3,000 from the Town of Prescott Valley and NorthCentral University.
This water should last gardeners into next year's growing season, but the Garden must locate another source of money by July 1, 2013. The council and the new agreement clearly states, "The Town does not commit to further subsidize water costs beyond the term of this agreement."
Located behind Albertson's Store at Florentine and Lake Valley roads, the Garden began in May 2010. The Town Council approved giving $1,000 worth of water for fiscal year 2010-2011 and another $1,000 for FY 2011-2012.
The Garden used about $490 in the first year (August 2010 -June 30, 2011) and has surpassed this fiscal year's $1,000 allotment, which ends June 30, by about $170.
Bonnie Flores, Garden project manager, in a Feb. 29 letter to PV Mayor Harvey Skoog, asked the council for $614 worth of water - the balance from the first year - and for an additional water allocation of $1,500 to keep the garden going during this year's growing season.
At the work-study session on Feb 16, the council said it could not maintain its free water supply to the Garden. It did, however, consider using $3,000 of surcharge money from NorthCentral University toward water allocation through June 30, 2013. On March 8, the council approved the agreement using NCU money, which provides $2,829 in additional funding ($3,000 less $171 in overages already paid by the Town).
"I'm happy with what the town is doing, and the support from people on the council," Flores said.
The Garden's goal is to offer a place where community members can grow and harvest fresh food on one piece of property, with some of the food going to help feed hungry families. The Fain Signature Group granted the use of 2.5 acres, and generous donations from www.aps.com">Arizona Public Service and Northern Arizona Council for Governments have helped with fencing and irrigation.
In the Community Garden's first year, it provided 2,686 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to the Yavapai Food Bank. At the peak of the season, volunteers were harvesting boxes of food three times a week. This year, in addition to the Food Bank, Flores said she is working with the Humboldt Unified School District to identify students and families, which would be directly involved and would directly benefit from growing food.
The children's section of the Garden provides an educational component; and a new flower garden area will offer bouquets to agencies to give to local shut-ins. Renters grow their own crops on half ($40) or full ($75) plots, and also volunteer 20 hours of work in the community garden.
This season, the Garden has expanded to one-third an acre, with four new renters plots, four new community plots, and six semi-dwarf apple trees, Flores said. Ten of the community plots will try out vertical growing, which should double the output for those sections.
To help keep better tabs on water use, the Town now sends monthly statements to Community Counts, the organization that oversees the Garden. In the past, the Town paid the bill without mailing statements to the Garden or Community Counts. The Garden has agreed to seek outside support and sponsorships to fund water costs after June 30, 2013.
Seven plots still are available for rent. See pvcommunitygarden.com for more information or call Bonnie Flores at 772-3308.