Parachute gardens preparing for produce
The Parachute LIFT-UP pantry gardens are nearing completion and need volunteers to come out to help put the finishing touches on a project that will feed hundreds of families. For several Yampah Mountain High School students, it’s the culmination of months of hard work, and they need help to see that hard work pay off in time to feed at-risk families for the summer.
Within Western Garfield County, some schools have as many as 73 percent of their students on free or reduced lunches, according to longtime local food advocate Kim Doyle Wille, who is founder of the food and gardening education organization Growing Empowerment.
This Saturday volunteers will be building and planting keyhole gardens and vertical growing support systems, which use less water and are more efficient methods of growing several different kinds of produce and vegetables.
“Hopefully we will be able to provide vegetables to the entire community this summer,” said Parachute LIFT-UP Coordinator Bert Botkin. “We serve a lot of families every month. Up to 100 families in the Parachute community per month.”
After weeks building and filling the beds, Botkin believes that if the gardens get a good turnout of volunteers this weekend, it may help push the project to completion.
Construction on the gardens began on March 18, and Botkin hopes to finish in time to feed Parachute families for the summer. While the gardens had over 20 volunteers on its first weekend, only around seven showed up last Saturday.
“We serve anybody that needs food,” Botkin added.
One person who’s been on the receiving end of the Parachute food pantries over the years is Yampah Mountain High School student Tim Cook, who volunteered at the pantry as part of his community service and will now help to feed his family with the food he helped to grow.
“Fresh veggies are much better than canned food,” he added.
He and his family still use the pantry for food from time to time.
“I didn’t know much about gardening before, but now I’ve learned how to grow food not just for yourself but for a lot of other people,” his brother Aidan told the Post Independent last week. “By growing your own food you can save a bunch of money and you know where your food is from.”
The Cooks are two of several teens from Yampah Mountain High School that have shown up since March 18 to help build the gardens, working from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. They need help to see their hard work pay off in time.
Aside from volunteers, the Parachute LIFT-UP is also looking for more donations of aged manure, compost, trucking, 5-gallon buckets, 2-by-4s, power tools and equipment to borrow.
Those that come on Saturday will learn how to build low-water keyhole raised bed garden from recycled materials and how to build tunnels and vertical growing structures for bigger harvests.
Botkin believes it will be another six weeks until the garden will be supplying the Parachute community, which she hopes will start by mid-July.
The pantry is also looking for a dump truck to haul a load of compost from the South Canyon landfill to the LIFT-UP garden by next Saturday. Those interested should contact local volunteer Kim Doyle Wille at 970-704-9535.
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