Summit Community Garden Network
High Country Conservation Center helps oversee and operate five community gardens in Summit County through what is known as the Summit Community Garden Network (SCGN). Here, you will find resources and tools to help you create a garden that thrives in our high-alpine environment.
If you are interested in purchasing a community garden plot or learning about individual gardens please click on the image below.
Summit County’s Seed Library
The seed library offers free access to seeds and seed saving eduction to everyone in our community at the Frisco Public Library.
- Seed Security. If you control your seed, you control your food supply.
- Regional Adaptation. Overtime, your seeds and crops will adapt to our micro-climate and become more resilient and regionally adapted to your soil.
- Consistent Quality. Overtime, seed saving will determine the gene pool optimal for your climate. After a few seasons, plants will have selected traits suitable for your climate.
- Preserving Heritage and Biodiversity. “Multinational corporations select seed varieties according to their own financial interests; they control 82 percent of the world’s seed market.” Maintaining variety or biodiversity among crops allows for food security and creates healthier soils.
Seed Saving Resources
- Gardening above 8,000 feet is challenging. From early and late frosts to cool summer nights, there are a number of factors that can make you appreciate a food garden in the mountains. One of the most important things to remember is “right place, right plant.” Summit County has a history in lettuce and root crop farming. Short-growing and cool-loving vegetables like chard, spinach, broccoli, beets, carrots, radishes, peas, and potatoes do well in our environment.
Choosing the Right Soil
Summit County Government graciously donates locally-made compost to local community garden projects. This compost is generated from zero waste events, school lunch waste, restaurants and residents and helps create a nutrient-rich soil that’s applied to our community gardens each spring.
You can find seeds, and organic fertilizer, and gardening advice at your local nurseries.
- The American Community Garden Association defines a community garden as: Any piece of land gardened by a group of people. There are tremendous benefits to community gardens including, bringing people together, inspiring self-reliance, engaging youth, and enhancing community development. Summit County Government supports community gardens on public and private land. Check out Summit community garden regulations adopted October 8, 2013. Read on to learn how to start a community garden in your neighborhood!
Organize a Meeting of Interested PeopleDetermine whether a garden is really needed and wanted, what kind it should be (vegetable, flower, both, organic?), whom it will involve and who benefits. Each of our community gardens started with an initial community forum to discuss garden possibilities and opportunities.
Form a Planning CommitteeThis group can be comprised of people who feel committed to the creation of the garden and have the time to devote to it, at least at this initial stage. Choose well-organized persons as garden coordinators. Form committees to tackle specific tasks: funding and partnerships, youth activities, construction and communication. Our gardens each have individual steering committees with active community members and gardeners that take ownership of the garden.
Identify All Your ResourcesDo a community asset assessment. What skills and resources already exist in the community that can aid in the garden’s creation? Contact local municipal planners about possible sites, as well as horticultural societies and other local sources of information and assistance. Look within your community for people with experience in landscaping and gardening. Contact HC3 for Summit County gardens to learn about potential grants, partnerships, and resources.
Approach a SponsorSome gardens “self-support” though membership dues, but for many, a sponsor is essential for donations of tools, seeds or money. Local businesses and partnership are essential to the success of your garden. For example, HC3 has partnered with Colorado Mountain College, Breckenridge Building Center, Summit School District, local towns and businesses, and the Colorado Garden Show, Inc. to build our gardens.
Choose a SiteConsider the amount of daily sunshine (vegetables need at least six hours a day), availability of water, and soil testing for possible pollutants. Find out who owns the land. Can the gardeners get a lease agreement for at least three years? Will public liability insurance be necessary? HC3 offers liability insurance to our community gardens. We’ve also partnered with local municipalities for use of public land to build community gardens.
Prepare and Develop the SiteIn most cases, the land will need considerable preparation for planting. Organize volunteer work crews to clean it, gather materials and decide on the design and plot arrangement. Frequent meetings with fellow neighbors and gardeners will ensure your garden is inclusive, functional, and successful. In addition, HC3 brings together over 100 volunteers to help with community garden projects.
Organize the GardenMembers must decide how many plots are available and how they will be assigned. Allow space for storing tools, making compost and pathways between plots. As a Summit County Garden Network member, your garden has access to our online applications. Interested community members can simply visit our website, fill out the application, and receive a plot assignment.
Plan for ChildrenConsider creating a special garden just for kids – including them is essential. Children are not as interested in the size of the harvest but rather in the process of gardening. A separate area set aside for them allows them to explore the garden at their own speed.
Determine Rules and Put Them in WritingThe gardeners themselves devise the best ground rules. Ground rules help gardeners to know what is expected of them. Think o fit as code of behavior. Some examples of issues that are best dealt with by agreed upon rules are: dues, how will the money be used? How are plots assigned? Will gardeners share tools, meet regularly, handle basic maintenance?
Keep Members in Touch with Each OtherGood communication ensures a strong community garden with active participation by all. Some ways to do this are: create an email list, install a rainproof bulletin board in the garden and have regular celebrations. Community gardens are all about creating and strengthening communities.