West Richland is ready to turn the water on in the Tri-City’s largest community garden, and space is still available for those who want to sow seeds.
The city has rented 28 of the 42 beds at the Yellowstone Trail Community Garden, located in a new city park at 106 Austin Drive, across the street from Flat Top Park. Water will be turned on April 1 for users to have access to until November.
“They are fairly priced at $10 for the entire planting season,” said West Richland Community Development Director Aaron Lambert.
The beds were built by 250 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members during a Day of Service in mid-September. Most of the beds are 4-by-8 feet, with six slightly taller 3-by-8 feet beds built to be accessible for those with disabilities.
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John Springer, vice president of MetalFab Inc., reserved six planters for his employees to use. He said it can be a peaceful change from the business of building metal frames for commercial buildings.
“You know how hectic life is,” Springer said. “If you can take 10 minutes a day and get outside in some dirt, it’s real soothing.”
Four of Springer’s employees will be working on MetalFab’s plots, he said.
“I just wanted to do something for the community and the guys,” he said. “I want to see it develop and grow.”
Some of the gardeners will be planting flowers in the beds, but most are planting fruits and vegetables, said Alison Greene, associate planner for the city. They can plant anything legal that they want, except for perennial plants that would continue growing after the end of the season.
“I’ve heard all sorts of things — from lettuce, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, corn, peppers,” she said.
Users of the garden are reminded to pull weeds and water their beds, Greene said.
“You want to weed it pretty regularly, so the weeds are not overtaking it and growing into other people’s beds,” she said.
The community garden in West Richland isn’t aimed at any particular group, Lambert said. He expects to see everyone from city council members to seniors to kids working there.
“We want to reach a cross-section of society,” he said.
Mayor Brent Gerry hopes the garden will be popular among people who live in apartments or small rental homes where gardening isn’t allowed. He has rented one of the beds to grow tomatoes and peppers for his homemade salsa.
“This was one of the many visions I had to bring the community together,” he said. “Since I was the brainstorm behind it, I figured I’d better participate.”
The park was built on a former storm water runoff area for a Columbia Irrigation District canal, largely using a $479,000 state Department of Ecology grant.
The community garden will have room to grow in future years, Greene said.
The city also could look at adding a garden elsewhere in the city if this one is popular. Gerry said rentals at the garden started off a bit slow, but have picked up as the weather warmed.
“Now with the planting season upon us, it’s filling up,” he said.
Washington State University Master Gardeners, who are overseeing the garden, will conduct an Introduction to Gardening class at the park at 10 a.m. April 4. It is open to the public.
Call Greene at 509-967-5902 for more information.