from Karen Marcus
If you’re new to Foothills, or simply haven’t fully explored its grounds, give yourself a treat by visiting the hidden gem on the southeast side of the church. There you’ll find a large garden that grows beans, spinach, tomatoes, cabbage, onions, raspberries, fruit trees, herbs, and much more.
The garden was started in 2006 by Bob Jones, who had gardens in New Zealand and Maine, where he traveled twice per year. Jones spent some time convincing the church board and minister at the time that he could turn the hill on the southeast side of the church — which then consisted of gravel and fill from the church building — into a thriving garden.
Jones’ original vision for the garden was to create a spot of beauty on the church property that would:
- Provide a learning opportunity around sustainability and environmental issues
- Provide fresh organic produce for congregants
- Meet one of our social justice principles by providing organic produce for the Food Bank
- Connect with the earth and build community around gardening
When the board and minister finally agreed, the garden was started with help from others, including Janet Brubaker who now leads the gardening team. “Because of what it was to begin with,” says Brubaker, “it took a lot of effort to make it productive. But, we started slowly, and over time it has grown to the size it is now. We make every effort to be good stewards of the land. For example, we rotate our crops to help sustain the soil, and periodically take some beds out of production to rebuild them.”
The current team of several dedicated gardeners communicates by email to set their schedule; they work about 100 hours a month. Brubaker says, “We begin growing our produce early in the year at our homes to have it ready to put in the ground in the spring. We’ve developed a number of ways to help protect the garden from the elements in the challenging Colorado climate. Trying to keep all the plants safe is one of the things that makes the garden a learning experience.”
Brubaker notes that the church has been generous in providing a budget for purchasing seeds, a water line for drip irrigation, and protective coverings for the plants.
The gardening team then sells produce to congregants, making enough money to pay back the money from the church. In addition, the team gives produce to the Food Bank, up to 700 pounds each year.
City of Fort Collins officials have noticed all this hard work and, for the last several years, the garden has been selected to participate in the Nature in the City program. Brubaker explains, “The program was developed to track the number of birds, bees, butterflies, and other insects in the city and notice any decline. We’re very proud that our garden has been chosen for this program. It’s such a lovely place, and it attracts many pollinators that are so vital to our food production.”
Brubaker says the team welcomes new gardeners.
It’s a perfect way for families to spend time appreciating nature together, or for seniors to get outdoors. “We have many opportunities for people of all ages and skill levels,” notes Brubaker. Anyone interested should call her at 970-286-8088.
The Foothills blogging team is also looking for new members to write about church activities, themes, and teachings. Anyone interesting should contact Kathryn at 970-493-5906.