The Board of Directors of Rose City West voted to give organizer David Barton permission to use land adjacent to the Rose City West property to develop a community garden at a special meeting held on Tuesday afternoon.
Barton first presented his idea for the garden to a number of organizations including North Big Horn Hospital, the Town of Lovell and the Chamber of Commerce, where he garnered much support for his idea. He has also presented the idea to numerous individuals, businesses, churches and other organizations. Barton said the feedback he has received so far has been “universally positive,” adding that nearly every business he approached offered to donate materials and labor to the project.
Though considering a number of possible sites in Lovell for the garden, Barton said the half-acre parcel of land located near Rose City West and the North Big Horn County Senior Center is his number one choice.
The permission granted by the Rose City Board is for a one-year trial period and comes with a number of conditions, including the condition that the cost of liability insurance ($680) be paid back to Rose City West. Barton said he feels confident that he can raise the money for the insurance through fundraisers, since it’s “not a great deal of money.”
Other conditions state that no structures or fences are constructed on the property and that entry to the garden be restricted to paved road access via Great Western Avenue. The group is also required to clean up any vegetative waste at the conclusion of its annual harvest.
According to Nick Lewis, who manages operations for Rose City West, a memorandum of understanding has been prepared outlining these conditions. The one-year permission goes into effect Oct. 1, 2015, and ends on Sept. 30, 2016, at which time further permission will be considered.
“They needed to get started right away, so they can prep the soil for next year’s garden. This is why the agreement had to go into effect right away,” said Lewis.
Barton’s employer North Big Horn Hospital gave him permission a few months ago to lend its name to the project as one of its main sponsors. He also got verbal support from the Town of Lovell, the North Big Horn Senior Center, the University of Wyoming Extension, numerous local businesses and other organizations.
Barton’s vision is for one large community garden, completely sustained and supported by the community. He said he has no plans to ask for any government help in the form of grants for the project. Half of the produce raised in the garden will be distributed to families and individuals in need. The produce will be distributed through free produce stands located throughout the community.
Barton said a small group of organizers is planning to meet in the coming week to discuss the formation of a steering committee for the project and to plan a public “kick-off” event in the next few weeks.
Barton said he plans to plant a symbolic rose this fall to mark the beginning of the project.
Barton is the education coordinator for the hospital district and plans to organize a number of workshops designed to support the hospital district’s community health improvement plan by engaging community members in physical activity and providing education on shopping for and preparing quick, inexpensive, easy and healthy meals.
By Patti Carpenter