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SLC Community Gardeners Struggle to Meet Demand

Soon-to-be harvested corn, squash, tomatoes and green beans are surrounded by graffiti art, offices, restaurants and homes near downtown Salt Lake City. The new Off Broadway Community Garden is an effort to fill an increasing demand for such a space. Ashley Patterson of Wasatch Community Gardens says digging in the dirt to grow something healthy and fresh is an activity that crosses all economic and social boundaries. Plus, she says, more Utahns want to bring farming closer to home.

“And so this is a way to take a lot in the city, create a little space, get people growing their food, and start to chip away a little of that agricultural self-sufficiency that people want," says Patterson. "And it’s also…it’s just a way to get to know your neighbors.”  

The garden became a reality thanks to $50-thousand dollars in grants awarded last year from a group of city departments and the Community Foundation of Utah. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says growth of garden space has been steady for the past ten years.

“But there is still this strong demand to grow more community gardens in this city," Becker says, "In this area alone we have a 2-year waitlist.”

Crossroads Urban Center personnel will help keep an eye on the garden after hours from their building just a few feet away. The center runs its own high volume emergency food pantry for low-income people in the city and statewide.

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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