Volunteers sprouting a neighborhood garden

South Tempe is sprouting a community garden, with the help of volunteering residents and a group of gardeners working to fund equipment for the beginning process.

Soon, people can start planting seeds, and neighborhood children will get a chance to watch their own vegetables grow.

The project, so far being called “Friends in Gasca Gardens,” is located on Warner Road just west of Bonarden Lane. It is named after the family that is donating the land for the garden, said Amanda Schneider, chair of the garden’s finance committee.

“So far, we started a compost pile and cleaned up the area a little bit,” she said. “We have approximately 28 plots right now that community members can rent and lease.”

Each plot is about 4 by 16 feet. There is also a designated Children’s Garden plot, as well as nine additional plots to be used for local food banks.

“We have 12 spots reserved already,” Schneider said. “We also have one plot that’s going to be a kids garden, and we are hoping to bring in some at-risk youth to work on that area.”

In late January, the group held a “Rockabilly Chili” fundraiser for the garden, featuring a chili cook-off and silent auction, Schneider said.

“Our goal was to raise $3,500 and we raised $4,500,” she said. “We ended up selling 123 tickets, so it turned out to be an exciting event.”

The money will be used to grade the land in preparation for planting seeds, Schneider said.

“Right now, we are taking reservations, and people pay $50 for a plot,” she said.

Schneider, who moved to Arizona from Colorado in 2001, said although she only has experience gardening in Colorado weather, there are many expert gardeners in the group who offer great tips and help others learn about what to garden and when in Arizona.

“We have a great group of local gardeners – I love the sense of community,” she said. “I think that my toddler seeing vegetables growing and seeing that process, he’d be more interested in eating them.”

Alex Prescott, garden organizer and Tempe resident, said he hopes the garden will help educate other residents on sustainability.

“It’s a nice gathering space for the community,” Prescott said. “The interaction and teaching that automatically happens when you’re there is a great aspect.”

A community-wide yard sale with proceeds going to the garden is scheduled Feb. 12, at the garden site. Additionally, a fundraiser will be held Feb. 25, in conjunction with Someburros. Twenty percent of proceeds from customers with specific fliers will go toward the garden efforts. Proceeds from the next fundraising events will be used to connect the garden to a water source, she said.

To reserve a plot in the community garden, email friendsingascagardens@gmail.com .

The garden is on the south side of Warner Road between Rural Road and McClintock Drive.

If you have donations for the Feb. 12 yard sale, send email to amandaschneider@cox.net .