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Steamboat Magazine

Deep Roots

09/20/2022 07:00AM ● By Cathy Wiedemer

John Birkett and his son, Holt, work to assemble the garden beds for the new Roots Community Garden. Photo courtesy of Kelly Bastone.

Steamboat Springs, CO - Gardening enthusiasts, unite! Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or still working on turning that thumb green, you can play an integral part in establishing and maintaining the new Steamboat Springs Community Garden.

The Steamboat Springs Roots Community Garden came to life more than a decade ago. The garden was the class project of the 2009/10 Steamboat Springs Chamber’s annual Leadership Steamboat program, with the first gardens producing greens and veggies in summer 2010. Season after season, residents have shared the camaraderie of fellow gardeners while tending to their crops at the garden’s previous downtown location between Sixth and Seventh streets on Oak Street.

To make way for Routt County’s new Health and Human Services building, the last shovel of soil was turned over at the Roots Community Garden in early fall 2021. Searching for a new permanent home for the garden, Colorado State University county director and agriculture extension agent Todd Hagenbuch reached out to Eli Nykamp, director of operations at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, about the possibility of utilizing the hospital campus’s open space for the new Roots Community Garden. 

Before the snowflakes began to fly late last October, an alliance with UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center and the CSU Extension Office was formed. YVMC agreed to donate use of the land, take on the cost to re-install water meters, and provide water once the garden was up and running. Hagenbuch then started the necessary legwork and permitting process for the ¼-acre site at 1920 Pine Grove Road to ensure the new  Roots Community Garden would be plantable for the summer 2022 season.

“We are so pleased that Todd approached us as a potential site for the community garden. It’s a natural fit,” Nykamp says. Also working diligently to see the new garden project come to fruition is impassioned gardener and long-time Roots Community Garden volunteer Kelly Bastone. “Community gardens will become more essential as housing density continues to increase,” Bastone says. 

Once word was out that the community garden needed a new home, Steamboat’s generosity shined like it has so many times prerviously. A $10,000 donation from the Moniker Foundation was the initial gift that jump-started the project. “We like supporting community health-related projects that help prevent food insecurities and reinforce the importance of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles,” says Rachel Long, high country leader for the Moniker Foundation.

When the garden is completed, there will be a total of 20 raised garden beds. Five will be taller than the others to accommodate gardeners in wheelchairs, and three will be dedicated for local nonprofit groups.

Gardeners who had a plot at the original Roots Community Garden will be offered the first opportunity to have a plot at the new location. Remaining plots will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Gardening is more than just growing food. It encourages and enhances relationships, provides a sense of accomplishment, establishes good practices, is an educational tool, and helps develop an appreciation for living things all while encouraging the value of healthy eating.  

The Steamboat Springs Community Roots Garden will make gardening accessible to everyone and bring more green to the local gardening scene. 

For additional information, contact the Routt County CSU Extension Office at 970-879-0825, or email: [email protected].