Dillon Valley student seeds community garden network | SummitDaily.com

Dillon Valley student seeds community garden network

Breeana Laughlin
Summit Daily/Breeana Laughlin

A new community garden is ready at Dillon Valley Elementary thanks, in large part, to the work of a high school sophomore.

Joe Cox runs cross-country, skis competitively and loves to long board. He’s also been part of the Scout Association since he was in kindergarten. He has worked his way up through the ranks and recently embarked on his Eagle Scout project.

“You have to do a project that will help out your community in some way,” Cox said.

He connected with Jen Santry at the High Country Conservation Center and learned about the plan to build a community garden at Dillon Valley Elementary.

“I just knew it would be a good cause and help families produce fresh products,” he said.

A grant from the Youth Giving Council and Colorado Garden Show, Inc. helped secure the materials needed for the garden, while Summit County provided the compost.

The Eagle Scout teamed up Woody Bates, the facilities manager at Summit School District, to conceptualize, plan and build the garden plots.

“It’s been a lot of communication, a lot of back and forth about what to get done and when,” Cox said.

His teammate and mentor said he took a hands-off approach to the project.

“I have to say I let Joe do most of the work because I knew it was his project and I wanted him to learn,” Bates said. “He did an amazing job from start to finish.”

Now, HC3’s Santry said the new community garden will be ready just in time for the growing season. The garden features 12 plots. About six of these plots are available to lease for the season for $50.

Some of the garden plots are being sponsored or given to community members who otherwise couldn’t afford to buy the garden space, in exchange for some volunteer hours. Dillon Valley principal Cathy Beck said she’s happy these plots will be put to good use.

“We realized there were some people in the area that might need some extra help and we didn’t want money to be a barrier,” Beck said.

The principal said she’s happy the school’s greenhouse garden program is expanding into a full-blown community garden.

“To be able to have fresh-grown food is a bonus to anyone and everyone,” Beck said.

“I’m from Alabama where everyone has gardens, but up here to be able to watch and experience a garden grow is a real treat and a learning opportunity.”

Santry said the Dillon Valley garden, along with the other community gardens in the Summit County Community Garden Network, help fill a gap in our area.

“A lot of youth — and adults — have lost touch with where their food comes from,” she said.

When you understand the process of how food is grown, you come to appreciate it more, Santry said. The community gardens were established to show that locals can grow their own food, and bond with neighbors while they’re at it.

“That’s really the basis of what community gardens are about,” she said. “It’s educational. It’s putting your hands in the dirt and growing your own food. But it’s also social.”

Weather depending, the Summit County community gardens are slated to open for planting next week.

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