I feel safe in saying that most urban gardeners love their backyards and are proud of how they have utilized a small space to get so much fresh, healthy food and enjoyment! Most gardeners’ backyards also paint a beautiful picture – happy chickens, vegetable, flower, and herb gardens, a clothesline, worm and traditional composting and very little lawn. Their backyards provide beauty, food, calm, entertainment, and stress relief.
But what sets the gardens on the WCG Urban Garden & Farm Tour aside from most other gardens are the inspirational, hidden gems, and innovative talents our hosts possess, and the Urban Garden and Farm Tour allows you those rare voyeur opportunities to snoop in your neighbors backyard. Our 2014 tour certainly out-did itself this year. For example, one host on the tour grows the usual suspects- chickens, bugs, dogs, cats, kids, vegetables, berries, flowers, herbs, trees, friendships and much more.
They have a well-shaded lot, so they have taken advantage of the few sunny places in their yard to grow vegetables. Several tomato plants are interspersed with a perennial flowerbed in the front yard, and a box bed in the back yard captures a small window of sunlight. They cook wonderful meals with locally produced ingredients, and any extra they preserve. But the hidden gem in this back yard is the recently remodeled shed turned artist studio/playhouse using cedar reclaimed from an old fence, and a display of colored cloth dyed using natural plant pigments. (PS, if you want to learn how to use plants to dye clothes, join us for our Dyeing with Plants workshop August 9th.)
And then there are the farms changing lives within our community. On 1.5 acres of restored urban land on the Westside of the City, Real Food Rising grows thousands of pounds of food each year. The produce is then donated to local hunger relief organizations or sold at an on-site farm stand for a reduced rate to clients of Neighborhood House and the surrounding community. New Roots seeks to build a healthier community through the development of small-scale urban farms and community gardens while increasing food access for refugees in Salt Lake City. This New Roots farm supplies the produce for their farm stand, which last year provided over 100 households with healthy, organic produce grown by refugee farmers.
Both programs engage, empower, and enable its participants to begin understand their role in our local community while learning job-readiness skills, the power of community service, how to grow their own food, and to be anti-hunger leaders.
I share this with you because Wasatch Community Gardens is a nonprofit organization that serves residents along the Wasatch Front, and we are committed to building community and providing opportunities to learn and grow through gardening. Urban Garden and Farm Week, which this year included a documentary, a chicken-keeping workshop, and the tour, is a way for our community to gather energy, raise awareness, and share ideas about urban gardening in the Salt Lake Valley.
We hope that the tour inspired you to take what you’ve seen here and create a growing space of your own, and empower people of all ages and incomes to grow and eat healthy, organic, local food.
We are especially grateful to our friends who sponsored the Tour, and to our awesome hosts, without whom we could not have this event. Thanks and happy gardening!