Community Gardens In Helena

Current and future community gardens in Helena, MT:

Selma Held Park

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Before her recent passing, Selma Held (right) organized her community to develop Beltview Park. The neighborhood surrounding Beltview wanted a community garden in the park, and GCP is working with them to make sure that happens. Selma also worked with the Helena Citizens Council (HCC) and the Helena Parks and Recreation Department to work out a system for developing all the undeveloped parkland in Helena.

With help from the HCC and the GCP, the people involved in the park conducted a survey to find out what their neighbors wanted to see in the park. We distributed over 1,000 surveys, and received over 400 back. Many people were excited about the park and about having a community garden included in the design. Community members gathered and collaboratively designed Beltview Park using the survey results and the expertise of a landscape architect who donated her time. This design was submitted to the Parks and Rec Department and an official design of the park was developed.

On February 22, 2010, the Helena City Commission approved changing the name of Beltview Park to Selma Held Park to honor the amazing work that Selma did to move forward the development of this and other city parks. The neighborhood group, The Friends of Selma Held Park, with the help of the GCP, are currently working on raising funds for the structures that the neighborhood wants in the park but that the city might not be able to provide, such as a playground and community garden.

Garden construction will begin in the spring of 2011.

Cooney Home Community Garden

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This garden, located at 2555 E. Broadway, was built in the fall of 2010 with a grant from The Home Depot, as well as volunteer labor from The Home Depot staff (both from Helena and Bozeman), GCP supporters, and Cooney Home staff. The beds in this garden are all wheelchair accessible, and each bed is equipped for drip irrigation (donated by Bergum Drug). There are a total of 10 plots, two of which are for the residents of Cooney Home. This garden is in a wonderful location, providing residents of Cooney Home a place to grow some of their own food and a beautiful spot to relax, as well as bringing community members to Cooney Home, building a stronger relationship within the neighborhood.

Thank you to the staff at Cooney Home, The Home Depot, Helena Sand and Gravel, and all the wonderful, enthusiastic volunteers who built this garden so quickly!

Plymouth Community Garden

This community garden is located on property owned by Plymouth Congregational Church (400 S. Oakes). The garden fulfills the mission of the Growing Community Project, providing access to healthy, local food for those experiencing poverty. It also fulfills the church's mission to create community and address social justice issues. There are community beds for rent, as well as beds tended specifically for the Helena Food Share. This garden was expanded in 2010 to build 3 specific beds for Volunteer for Veggies, expand the irrigation access, and add more large individual plots. The tool shed was designed and painted in 2010 by the You Got Served! youth volunteer program from the Helena School District.

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The garden has been a success because of all the volunteer labor and donated/discounted materials by several local businesses. Special thanks to: Power Townsend, Mark's Lumber, Marks-Miller Post and Pole, Bobcat of Helena, Rock Hand Hardware, ProBuild, Real Food Store and Deli, Valley Farms, Lakshmi Building, Gruber Excavating, Montana Conservation Corps, Habitat for Humanity, Herrin Water Systems, Blackfoot River Brewery, and all the volunteers!

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Food Share Garden

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The Food Share Community Garden is just steps away from Food Share (1616 Lewis St.). Food Share recently bought land next door to expand their warehouse, but until the capital is raised, the land won't be used for much. Joyce Brown decided not to let the empty space go to waste, even if only for a couple years, and began organizing and working with the Growing Community Project and Food Share to build a community garden. She asked local businesses for donations, and nearly all of the materials for the garden were generously donated. The garden was built over three weeks, with an amazing number of volunteers turning out to help.

Half of the Food Share Garden are community plots, where individuals can rent a plot for the growing season. The other half are Volunteer For Veggies beds. All of the starts and seeds were donated. These beds are open for community members to come and volunteer a little time weeding, watering, and harvesting veggies, and in exchange can take home as many veggies as they need. The rest of the vegetables are donated directly to Food Share. Over the course of 2008 we donated over 400 pounds of veggies to Food Share from just the Food Share garden!

Thank you so much to everyone who volunteers at the Food Share Garden. The garden is a success thanks to your hard work and dedication. And thank you to all the local businesses that donated materials for the garden.

In 2010, the Food Security Council of the Montana Food Bank Network recognized and awarded the Food Share garden as an innovative solution to hunger in Montana!

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Exploration Community Garden

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Community Works developed the Exploration Garden in the summer of 2005 in cooperation with the Helena Rotary Club and the YMCA. It is an outdoor classroom and exhibit of ExplorationWorks, an interactive children's museum. The garden provides hands-on learning opportunities in the study of plants and botany, health and nutrition, cooking, and environmental sciences.

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In 2007 the Growing Community Project began working with ExplorationWorks to expand Exploration Garden to include community beds. We added 12 beds and began renting plots to people in the neighborhood in the spring of 2008. WEEL, ExplorationWorks, and AERO held a fundraiser to build a fence in order to curb the deer problem. With the help of generous donations, many volunteers, and countless volunteer hours, we built the fence over 5 weeks.

In 2010, ExplorationWorks and the Growing Community Project expanded the current irrigation system so that gardeners will have access to more spigots and will be able to utilize drip irrigation, making water usage much more efficient.

Exploration Garden is located right next to the YMCA off of Last Chance Gulch.

The photo above is of a women's class on building raised beds, taught by Anna Baker at the garden.

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Cruse Overlook Community Garden

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The Cruse Overlook Garden is located between St. Paul's United Methodist Church and Sunset Apartments, overlooking Cruse Avenue, and started renting plots in the spring of 2010.

This garden has been quite the collaborative effort and was spearheaded by GCP steering committee member, Les Clark. The garden was designed and construction was begun by Jake Mangum as an Eagle Scout Project, and features eight 8'x4' and eight 2'x5' wheel-chair accessible beds to benefit the residents of Sunset Apartments, as well as the Helena community. The youth group at St. Paul's United Methodist designed and built the compost system, St. Paul's United Methodist has offered use of their water and tool shed, and several experienced farmers and gardeners have started a mentoring program for beginning gardeners. Volunteer labor was provided by Boy Scouts, St. Paul's and Mormon church members, GCP volunteers, and two Montana Conservation Corps crews.

Many thanks to St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Sunset Apartments, Jake and Bardel Mangum, Boy Scout Troop 216, Rock Hand Hardware, Montana Conservation Corps, Helena Sand and Gravel, Valley Excavating, The Mormon Church, Participant businesses in the 2009 Good Eats for Local Feats Fundraiser (Benny's, No Sweat Cafe, The Dive Bakery), and Les Clark.
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Waukesha Community Garden

Waukesha Garden is located in Waukesha Park and has been around since the 1970's. It is the largest community garden in the Helena area and is currently managed by the Helena Parks and Recreation Department. Please call them at 447-8463 for more information about this garden.

Our Reedemer's Lutheran Church Garden

This garden is located north of Capital High School on land that will become the new location for Our Reedemer's Lutheran Church. What started as a garden specifically for the church will also be offering plots to community members starting in 2010. They are asking for a $25.00 donation/plot/season to help fund an irrigation system. Please contact GCP steering committee member, Julia Gustafson, 422-2920, if you are interested in a plot.

The Florence Crittenton Home Garden

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In the spring of 2007, the Florence Crittenton Home contacted the Growing Community Project for help in building a communal garden for the women who live and work at the Home. The young women designed, built, planted, and tended to their garden. It was built with help from the Montana Conservation Corps (MCC). The girls harvested vegetables in the fall and made baby food. They also gave away packets of herbs at the annual Sixth Ward and Midtown Flea Market, a neighborhood event held in their neighborhood.

In 2008 the garden was expanded to include room for corn, squash, beans, and an apple tree. Many thanks to MCC and the Boy Scouts.

This photo is of Jess, a resident of the Florence Crittenton Home, and her 2 year-old son, James. Jess is very interested in gardening, and she interned with the Growing Community Project in the summer of 2008. She was integral in organizing the Food Share Garden and doing outreach to the neighborhood around the garden. She also spent a lot of time working in the Florence Crittenton Home Garden.

Jess began gardening when she was eight and has a green thumb. “You get to watch seedlings grow and mature and produce seeds of their own. In all reality, it’s like watching kids grow. It just takes less time.”

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MT Boys' Home Garden

This garden was built for the residents in 2009. This garden was expanded to include 2 new beds in 2010.

Possible Future Community Garden locations in Helena

Janet Street Park, Skelton Park, ME Anderson

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