Hoping to G.R.O.W.: Sustainable Gardening in Grand Junction

Originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of SPOKE+BLOSSOM

CAT MAYER

CAT MAYER

With more interest in healthy, home-grown foods, a fledgling nonprofit group hopes to help teach people in the Grand Valley how to garden sustainably.

Landscape architect Rob Breeden created Gardens Restoring Our World (GROW) at the start of the year.

“It dawned on me that there was a disconnect and a need to fill a gap,” he says.

GROW wants to provide garden education, installation and maintenance services to the public and private sectors, as well as offer hands-on experience in urban gardening. Breeden, who consulted on the Mesa County Library Discovery Garden, says it is important to re-educate people about the importance of sustainable gardening, much of which has been lost to over-mechanization and commercial chemical production.

“Responsible care and stewardship of our natural resources are of primary importance,” he writes in an email. “We need to get volunteers lined up, grow our name,” Breeden says. “My vision is to expand into greater Grand Junction and elsewhere.”

CAT MAYER

CAT MAYER

For example, Breeden says volunteers to do the heavy lifting on garden projects are hard to find in hot summer months, so GROW might help organize those events.

A logo contest among local middle schools produced several entries and the three-member GROW board of directors was to pick a winning design at the end of April, Breeden says.

GROW also works with the Lowell Valley Townhomes project, behind the Lowell School in downtown Grand Junction, near Seventh Street and White Avenue, formerly the R-5 High School. The project includes 36 townhomes in one city block, where Breeden proposes using public right-of-way for community gardens.

“I started talking to the developer about landscaping and brought up the idea of integrating food instead of flowers,” Breeden says of an edible landscaping approach.

The Lowell Village community is hoped to be instrumental in creating at least two community gardens downtown, Breeden says. Future plans include building a greenhouse at the site to hold year-round activities. The Grand Junction Downtown Development Authority is the property owner, and Breeden says he has talked to authority officials about GROW managing the site.

East Middle School near the Lowell site and GROW hosted a planter-building workshop with the help of area business’ material donations. Around 20 people showed up, Breeden says, and built a raised garden bed “in the shape of a curvy snake.”

Breeden hopes to work with the school on before-class gardening workshops and notes a teacher at nearby Chipeta Elementary School is interested in a similar program for her fifth-graders.

GROW also hosted workshops on soil health and cover crops, a subject Breeden helps the Mesa Conservation District promote as a member of the district board of directors.

As GROW moves forward into the downtown and greater Grand Junction area, Breeden wants to see blighted areas turned into community gardens.“

Places where people could come and teach and learn with others about sustainable gardening and growing their own healthy food,” he says.

To learn more about GROW (website coming soon), call Breeden at 970.210.2155 or email gardensrestoringyourworld@gmail.com.

Mike McKibbinBlossom