About the Gardens
In 2010, at the community’s request, the state of Alaska installed four large garden beds as part an important new highway overpass into Mountain View. These garden plots were built upon the former sites of high-density 8 and 10-plex housing, which had been torn down to make way for the Glenn Highway-Bragaw St. interchange project. People were excited to have a space to garden and build community. Unfortunately, budgets, politics, and a disagreement between the city and state conspired to keep the gardens space from opening. What was supposed to be an important new community asset deteriorated into a place of neglect and disuse, affirming many negative opinions about the Mountain View neighborhood.
In 2012, the Anchorage Community Land Trust (ACLT), a non-profit organization focusing on community revitalization in Mountain View, entered negotiations with the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) to open and operate the community garden located at the Bragaw/Glenn Highway Interchange. Through resolutions passed by the Mountain View, Russian Jack, Airport Heights, and Northeast Community Councils, the community asked that a Memorandum of Agreement exist between the city and ACLT, in order to have ACLT take on the administration of the gardens. These same community councils signed resolutions urging the state legislature to fund work at the gardens. Thanks to the state legislature’s generous funding, Governor Parnell, and a matching grant by the Rasmuson foundation, the Anchorage Community Land Trust was able to make improvements to the site and this year, to open the gardens.On June 1st, 2012, ACLT signed an agreement with the Municipality of Anchorage, making the gardens part of a story of transformation and revitalization in Anchorage’s lowest-income and most diverse neighborhood.
In 2012, ACLT conducted capital improvements at the garden, including fencing the beds, conducting soil testing and amendments, and putting up signage. Through the work of volunteers who constructed and installed a shed, and a local artist who painted signage, the gardens were transformed into a green space ready to be used by the community.
In 2013, the Gardens opened for the first time. A gardening workshop, seed swap, composting workshop, and opening celebration were held. This year, the Gardens opened for their second season, and all 44 plots are currently leased and being used by community members. An infographic was created in the fall of 2013 to illustrate gardeners’ experiences and to highlight some statistics.
This year, two art projects have been completed, in partnership with the Arc of Anchorage and with Clark Middle School. Students in the Arc of Anchorage’s Wednesday art class have made ten ceramic stepping stones, which will be installed at the Gardens in late August. And this spring, students in Clark Middle School’s art and shop classes cut and painted four wooden figures, which are installed on the fence at the Gardens. A second identical set of four figures will be created and installed on the other fenced area this fall.
ACLT – Community Development Associate