Community Garden is a true Co-Op

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Gardeners grow a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits almost all year long in individual plots located at the Mesquite Community Heritage Gardens on Hafen Lane. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

Gardeners grow a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits almost all year long in individual plots located at the Mesquite Community Heritage Gardens on Hafen Lane. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

The Mesquite Community Heritage Garden is a true co-op with members helping each other out when fellow members are out of town or for any reason can’t maintain their own garden for a short bit. Master gardeners are available for advice when wanted or needed.   Produce is donated by the gardeners to sell at the booth on Saturday mornings when in season. The MHCG also works with the Cooperative Extension Office run by the UNLV and provides community hours for gardeners who are working toward their Master Gardener’s Certificate.

Even though it does not claim to be an organic gardening area as previously reported, the mission and purpose of the Community Heritage Garden has changed over the few short years it’s been in existence and so have the looks and maintenance of the garden sites.

The Mission of the MCHG is to provide an environment in which all residents of Mesquite can enhance the quality of their lives through a healthy gardening experience via participation and education.

Any resident within a 15-mile radius of Mesquite qualifies for membership and is allowed one vote at each meeting providing the criteria for good standing is met.

Gardeners follow a strict set of community rules which are governed by members of the Board of Trustees. Meetings are held on the first Monday of each month at 9 a.m. at a site designated by the president. The rules used to be a lot less strict but time and experience have taught garden members lessons that have improved the area.

The Mesquite Community Heritage Gardens provide standards for individual garden plots that make the area attractive along with giving residents a place to grow their own produce. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

The Mesquite Community Heritage Gardens provide standards for individual garden plots that make the area attractive along with giving residents a place to grow their own produce. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

The community garden members used to accept compost material from residents of Mesquite but the ‘composting’ got out of hand and they no longer allow the public to bring material for composting. Materials other than that which could be composted were being dumped around the garden area. They’ve also found that garden members provide more than enough material for composting and they have more than they need.

Marilyn Stevens, Garden Manager and Master Gardener is busy every day checking the garden in the early mornings while other members of the garden community check on the garden the rest of the day. They’ve had troubles in the past with people dumping a lot of garbage in the garden area so now it’s monitored as much as possible. Grills, metal, meat and other products that do not belong to the members and don’t belong in the garden end up there instead of the city dump where they belong.

Stevens and other gardeners have spent many hours working very hard to clean up the messes others leave behind. “It’s not our gardeners that are dumping garbage, it’s other community members who don’t want to take stuff to the dump. It’s a lot of work cleaning it up and we just inherited our second grill which we now have to get rid of; people have even dumped mattresses there.” There has been a lot of effort put into creating garden spots which are aesthetically pleasing to the community members who live near or drive by the site.

Not only do the individual plots at the Mesquite Community Heritage Gardens provide fresh vegetables, some also provide a decorative area to enjoy the outdoors. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

Not only do the individual plots at the Mesquite Community Heritage Gardens provide fresh vegetables, some also provide a decorative area to enjoy the outdoors. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

The garden’s looks have greatly improved over the past three years. There was once a plethora of materials used for shade such as sheets, plastic and tarps. It made the garden look like a wasteland especially when these items suffered weather damage and were riddled with holes. The standards are much better now and the members have to comply with the standards set by the board.

Stevens also provides services to the garden community by way of coordinating events, equipment rentals that may be needed, care of plots that can’t be cared for by its ‘owner’ and many other services that might be needed.

Stevens said the highest compliment she received since she took over as manager of the garden was from an elderly lady who uses a walker. About a year ago Stevens was tending to the garden when she heard someone yell her name. Stevens thought at first the woman was hurt but she said, “I just wanted to thank you.” “Thank me for what?” asked Stevens. The woman replied, “This is the first time I am able to walk through this garden without fear of tripping or falling over debris left all over the walkways.” Stevens said she was really moved by this woman’s thanks and it made her realize how little changes, like making sure trash is cleaned up, make a huge impact on the lives of others.

Plots in the garden range in price from $55 for approximately a 10 x 10 f.t plot up to $145 for a 14 x 30 plot. They presently have only three plots available. For more information on the MHCG and how you can obtain a plot or work on Master Gardener hours call Marilyn Stevens at 619-820-7751.

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