Growing interest in community gardening

Packets of seeds and buckets of soil dotted tables surrounded by dozens of neighborhood growers at a Mountain View gardening workshop Thursday night.

The annual seed swap, hosted by the Anchorage Community Land Trust at the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature, featured volunteers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension and plenty of vegetables. Gardeners planted lettuce, kale, tomatoes, squash, fennel and more in plastic trays. The room was already full by the time the event officially kicked off at 5 p.m.

Theresa Mashigo said she hoped to start cabbage and beets. She’s always loved gardening.

After growing up in Swaziland, she moved to San Diego, came to Alaska to work in the fishing industry and eventually settled down in Mountain View. She’s been on the waiting list for a plot at the Gardens at Bragaw for a year, she said.

In Swaziland, Mashigo planted pumpkins in between rows of corn. You had to nestle them in hay and rotate them to face the sun, she said, but slowly, they grew.

“By the holiday season, every one of my family members had a big pumpkin from me,” Mashigo said. “I will never forget that. That was the greatest.”

She hopes to fill her community garden plot with vegetables that will grow in Alaska’s northern climate like the pumpkins grew in Africa; she said she had lots of questions for horticulturist Julie Riley.

At another table, Lauren Curran and Ann McCarthy of Bean’s Cafe planted a tray full of vegetables and herbs for The Children’s Lunchbox plot at the community garden.

The Children’s Lunchbox is a project of the Anchorage soup kitchen, providing meals and snacks to more than 20 sites citywide, including the Mountain View Boy’s and Girls Club. The Gardens at Bragaw plot will grow vegetables for the meal program, Curran said, and provide a volunteer opportunity for community members.

In conjunction with the Mountain View garden plot, The Children’s Lunchbox plans on teaching kids how to make their own “tiny gardens” at home — window boxes and planter pots and other conveniently sized projects.

“We want to show them they can eat healthy and not have to have a big yard to do it,” McCarthy said.



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