Can Timnath's community garden be resurrected?

Timnath had a beautiful, thriving community garden from 2006 through 2012. It sprouted on part of Raleigh and Edith Brooks’ 4-acre spread on Main Street, across from Timnath Elementary School.

Once known as the Timnath Pumpkin Patch for the crop Raleigh Brooks farmed until 2001, the land’s garden usage was a concept that he hoped would help preserve Timnath’s rural and farming heritage. Brooks, the longtime state 4-H Leader, hoped the land he leased to the band of avid gardeners would continue as a community project in perpetuity.

Under the volunteer leadership of Denise Fisher, Diane Fusaro and others, 35 gardeners each season tended 42 plots. The cost was minimal, Fisher said, $20 per season for a 12- by 16-foot plot or $30 for a 30- by 16-foot bed. Gardeners could work their area any time from dawn to dusk. Although well water was available, participants installed an irrigation system. Garden members performed general path maintenance, mulching and weeding on three special workdays each year. Colorado Master Gardeners conducted classes for the public in the pergola.

Part of the lease agreement was that each gardener would donate a percentage of their harvest to an area food bank. Some voluntarily increased their minimum by hundreds of pounds per season.

The garden became so well known that Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins sent their applicant overflow to Timnath.

But the Timnath garden went fallow when the Brookses said they planned to remove to a retirement home and put their farm on the market. Not wanting to be evicted by a new owner, Fisher told the Brooks family the garden wouldn’t be renewing its lease after the 2012 season.

Although the Brookses ultimately changed their minds about selling, Fisher said she was worn out after donating hundreds of hours in past garden seasons and didn’t want to personally restart and manage the garden.

So, she contacted the Town of Timnath in hopes they would assume its management. Fisher said that she initially received no response to her letter of July 2012. Follow-up contacts in 2013 also indicated the town wasn’t interested.

No plans to resume the old garden or secure another location resulted from the 2013 exchanges, nor has anyone pursued the possibility since. Fisher told the Timnath News that the infrastructure of the original community garden is still intact and that the Brookses remain eager to see it revived by interested gardeners.

In July, Timnath Mayor Jill Grossman-Belisle was asked why council rejected the possibility of purchasing the Brooks land in 2013, and about future possibilities for a Timnath community garden.

She explained that the Brooks land “came with a price tag” and the town previously wasn’t in a position to purchase it. However, she emphasized, now even more than then, Timnath’s continuing growth makes the concept more appealing.

“I think a community garden is great and fits in with Timnath’s vision,” said Grossman-Belisle. “A comprehensive parks plan was completed last year and a garden could become part of it.”

This might be accomplished in one of several ways, she added. Developers are required to provide a percentage of land for open space, which could include a garden. Or, someone could donate acreage. If that opportunity came about, town council would be open to doing an analysis for a long-term plan. Criteria for any location, said Grossman-Belisle, includes its size. Due to the population increase, the Brooks’ property, for example, would most likely be quickly outgrown or better-used for other development.

“A community garden makes a lot of sense for Timnath,” Grossman-Belisle said. “I think this council would be amenable to the idea.”

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