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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, we were 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, we 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 the spring of 2013, ACLT recruited local gardeners for the first growing season of the gardens by advertising in the library and other community spaces, going to the Mountain View Community Council, and going door-to-door in the 8-plex apartment complexes surrounding the gardens. We held two registration days, on March 30th and April 6th, where we had more submitted applications than available plots within two hours. At the beginning of the season, volunteers from New Life Development, a residential reentry program in the neighborhood, helped us create wood-chip paths through the gardens. And in August, Alaska Mill and Feed donated funds towards two composters for the gardens, which are now installed and in use. To learn more about the application process and about the amenities available at the gardens, please see our fact sheet.
During the course of the gardening season, we hosted a seed starting workshop and seed swap, a composting workshop, an opening celebration for the gardens, and an end-of-season potluck, along with several gardeners’ meetings. Our gardeners have stepped up to help each other become better gardeners, have planned events at the gardens, and have helped us with each of the projects we have undertaken. This fall, we asked gardeners to fill out a survey that asked about their gardening experience, whether they had made friends through community gardening, and who had eaten the produce from their gardens, among other questions. We created an infographic to illustrate the results of this survey.
This year, we plan to continue offering educational and social events at the garden, including more programming on composting, fall planting, preserving food, and organic gardening methods. We also plan to introduce ‘donation days’ on which gardeners can leave produce in designated bins to be taken to a local food bank. Thanks to a grant from the Anchorage East Rotary Club, we will be making improvements to the shed at the gardens, adding more landscaping elements around the fenced areas, and working with local schools and organizations to create and install art at the gardens. We will also be constructing a gazebo at the gardens, with the help of a Challenge Grant from the Anchorage Park Foundation.
For questions and information, please contact:
Radhika Krishna – Community Development Associate