Growing community through gardening

FORT IRWIN Calif. — Thomas Jefferson may have said it best in 1811, “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” This same spirit lives on in the community garden at Ft. Irwin.

“The goal of the garden is to develop a community of those with joined interests,” said Caroline Smith, president of the Farmers’ Institute Garden Club, which is the local community garden here on Fort Irwin. Smith went on to explain that the garden is a place to gather, to share gardening success and tips, to help each other and make friends.

Children also gather at the community garden. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4-H Clubs have all participated in garden activities. Many families use the garden as a teaching tool for their own children. “It’s a great learning experience for kids,” said Smith. “They learn where their food comes from.”

The Mojave Desert offers many challenges for gardeners, but those with plots say they are able to grow things all year round. The cooler months are great for beans and lettuce, while the hotter months favor tomatoes, melons and strawberries. Grapevines and artichokes are also very successful.

“Having your own garden in different posts around the country allows you to develop your skills as a gardener,” said Jessica Whippo, who has two plots at the garden. “Leaning the various mico-climates allows you to constantly evolve and challenge your passion as a gardener.”

Each garden plot is a raised bed, extending about two feet from the ground, and measures 10 feet long and 10 feet wide. The fee is $50 per year, which includes water and use of shared garden tools. There is an automatic irrigation system, which waters each day and increases watering frequency in the summer. The garden is all organic, not allowing the use of chemicals as they could contaminate neighboring plots.

The community garden is located next to the blue track and the dog park. If interested in getting a plot, email for availability.

More Stories From This Author