Community garden set to open this summer


After work from local contributors, the Chadek Green Community Garden is set to be available for use starting this summer.

The combined efforts of the Chadek family and the Iowa City Ecopolis initiative, which aims to take steps toward accelerating environmental changes, led to the garden’s conception. The focus will be for participants to grow their own food.

In October 2014, Iowa City purchased five acres of vacant land belonging to Carl Chadek near the intersection of Friendship Street and Fifth Avenue for $280,000.

The land is now being made into a garden in the late Chadek’s honor.

“Chadek wanted this piece of property to include gardens,” said Tammy Neumann, the Farmers’ Market coordinator.

The constant efforts of Ecopolis furthered Chadek’s wish, planners said, whose ultimate goal is to allow local food growth to be a possibility for Iowans.

Members of Ecopolis have been lobbying for the community space since April 2014.

Grant Schultz, a member of Ecopolis and a farmer and permaculture expert, said it’s a huge step forward to the initiative’s plan.

“Our lobbying plan was that 90 percent of Iowa City should have access to local gardens,” he said.

With the Chadek Green garden being the second such space in Iowa City, officials are happy about the progress but want to see more.

The other garden, at Wetherby Park, has been available to residents for as far back as Neumann can remember.

“We just need 10 more of them,” Schultz said.

In preparation for the opening of the community garden, Ecopolis will host seminars on how to build a hoop house in the spring so people can get started on their gardening early.

Schultz said a hoop house is similar to a mini green house.

Johnson County Supervisor Mike Carberry said community gardens such as this one are important for residents of Iowa who don’t have access to yard space.

“A lot of people live in apartments that don’t have yards,” Carberry said. “There are a lot of folks who are interested in gardening. It’s sustainable and inexpensive. You’re just putting in labor of love.”

Carberry said from what he’s seen there is a high demand for local food, and the community garden will be another way to access it.

In order to ensure the project is successful, officials are trying to take care of every variable by supplying free seeds to those who can’t afford them and offering a community toolshed so everyone has access to gardening tools.

Carberry hopes to try to locate the toolshed across the street from the garden.

“I’m just thinking outside the box to see if we can possibly get hardware stores to donate tools,” Carberry said. “If not, maybe I can raise some money.”

Because this year will be the first year of the community garden, the planning process is not fully formed.

As of now, the goal is to construct a basic garden with the necessities to see it flourish and hopefully build upon it in the upcoming years.

Ideas for the future include a gazebo, live music, and gardening classes.

The plots for the community garden are set to be 10 by 20 feet, and residents will have to pay a $12 fee per season to use a plot, while nonresidents will be subject to a $17 fee.

Carberry said that ultimately, he believes the garden will be a good thing.

“It’s just another way for people to get local food,” he said. “It’s very inexpensive.”

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