Foothills eyeing community garden plots

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By Deborah Swearingen

Foothills Park and Recreation District is considering properties for a new Feeding Many, Inc., community orchard and garden in South Jeffco, and it may have found the right fit.

Though no votes were taken at the June 27 meeting, the board of directors gave the go-ahead to Dr. Shirl Smith of Feeding Many to continue taking the necessary steps for future development on a plot on South Cole Street, adjacent to Kendallvue Elementary School.

Feeding Many is a South Jeffco nonprofit organization that aims to create community orchards and gardens that provide for those in need and to promote the benefits of growing fresh fruits and vegetables in an urban environment.

Should the garden be approved, it will serve as a resource for Kendallvue students and the surrounding neighborhoods. There will be community beds available, as well as an area sectioned off to create a grow-to-lunch program at the school.

“They’re going to grow vegetables in these beds, maintain them, educate the children, take the fresh crop and then take it into their lunch program,” said Smith, who spoke with the school about the potential plan.

Among other ideas, there are plans for picnic tables and benches so families can relax, garden and spend time together. A variety of fruits are under consideration for the garden, and depending on community reaction, Smith is considering incorporating a beehive for pollination.

No rezoning would be required to build the community garden, though there would be various permits Feeding Many and Foothills would need to obtain. Foothills executive director Ron Hopp noted the property is currently owned by Jefferson County Open Space, who leases it to Foothills, but said he doesn’t foresee an issue with this.

Board members at last week’s meeting seemed generally favorable about the idea and encouraged Smith to move forward with the plan.

“As a general proposition, I still support this,” said board member Bill Meyer, who attended the meeting via telephone conference call. “I would like some additional information. I’d like to actually sit down and have the map, be able to kind of look a little more closely.”

Board member Lori Bosanko agreed.

“You know what you’re doing,” she told Smith. “We can trust that you’re going to do everything you’re supposed to do.”

A community meeting must be held before a decision is made by the Foothills Park & Recreation District board, but the date for the meeting has yet to be confirmed.