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Some of the green space around St. Anthony North Health Campus has been converted to community gardens, giving residents with a lack of space a chance to practice their green thumb.
“The reason behind this is to provide an opportunity for the community to come and garden, rent a plot, and grow their own nutritious fruits and vegetables,” said Barry Wawrzyn, communications manager for St. Anthony North.
The hospital’s foundation officially unveiled its community gardens May 9 with a reception in the campus gardens, 144th Avenue and Interstate 25.
It includes an acres-worth of 23 plots, ready for planting fruits and vegetables, available to the public. So far, all but three have been rented out but said the hospital is eyeing another acre right next door to expand the garden.
“It’s an acre right now, but we have a phase two,” Wawrzyn said. “We can grow as it does, and continues to build traction in the community.”
In between the garden and the hospital, the foundation has planted a series of fruit trees — apple, cherry and peach. Wawrzyn said he expects the hospitals food services crews will use those when they bear fruit.
The idea grew out of 2014 focus groups when the hospital moved from its old 84th and Federal Boulevard location to 144th Avenue.
“We did surveys in the communities around here and this was one of the things people wanted us to do,” he said. “The resounding answer was helping with wellness, and they said it would be great to have a community garden they could us.”
“Anyone in our community can use this,” he said. “Anyone from Westminster, Thornton, Northglenn. The whole idea of it is it to provide an opportunity to help people pursue health and wellness. We don’t want to just be a hospital; We want to be about health and wellness.”
Sister Pat Hayden, vice president of mission integration for St. Anthony North, said
“They get to create what they want,” Hayden said. “Some can have flowers, some can have tomatoes, vegetables. Its all up to them, whatever they want in their little box.”
Community groups are invited too.
“Some of the departments in the hospital are taking part too,” she said. “We have great plans. We have some retired farmers that would like to take part.”
The garden currently consists of 17 ground plots and six raised beds, and they rent for between $25 and $50 for the season.
The foundation provides irrigation and hand tools to work the ground. The gardeners provide the effort and seeds and they can do what they want with what they grow.
“We have little hand tools and rakes and shovels people can use,” Allie Holm said. “It’s all irrigated and the entire garden is wrapped in fencing to keep the rabbits out.”
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