By Grace Usher
There seems to be a common misconception floating around the desert that vegetation cannot be grown and that Lake Havasu City is said to be the ideal climate for plant death rather than life. Our dry, mineral-deprived soils and lack of rainfall are similar to Death Valley, Calif. However, the difference is, there are hidden green thumbs among many community members.
New Horizons Center is teaming with the community in Lake Havasu’s first official community garden.
The Les Galst Community Garden is a project that began two years ago when the New Horizons Center had an unused plot of land and a win-win idea for all involved.
Les Galst founded New Horizons Center in 1973 with the aim to serve persons with disabilities. The nonprofit has since provided transportation, activities, living arrangements and joy to those living with developmental disabilities. Galst passed away in 2015 and the community garden is named in his remembrance.
“It was his idea to keep expanding and buy more land. He passed away and we donated this land in his name and made it a garden. We like to integrate with the community, not segregate, and this is the way to do it,” said Terry Delia of New Horizons.
The project began roughly two years ago, and slowly but surely is coming together. Still in phase one, it is the hard work, dedication and selflessness that has made the garden grow.
At first, a community garden committee was formed that consisted of New Horizon employees and clients, and the Mohave County Master Gardeners. The Master Gardener’s brought their expertise in growing processes to make sure each plant was grown correctly and with resource efficiency. The group began blooming ideas and harvesting knowledge.
Neighboring the New Horizons Center, visitors of the garden are greeted with a tall, proud iron gate designed and handcrafted by Deb Riva, owner of HeArt of Steel.
There are twelve planting beds that encircle a center activity area. Each bed is 10-12 feet by 3 ½ feet. The wavy steel walls are held by wooden framing and are the work of The Mohave County Master Gardeners.
Every Wednesday for six consecutive weeks, the group assembled the pieces to build the planter boxes.
“Our role is educators, not necessarily doers, for us the raised beds is unique” said Carol Bruch, Master Gardener.
Once completed, the beds were filled by donated, recycled soil. Each planter box takes around 200 bags of nutrient-dense potting soil.
Each bed contains its own watering system of soaker hoses. The Lake Havasu Water Department advised the group on how to create eco-friendly irrigation system to make sure the plants would be staying alive in the rough desert conditions while correspondingly maintaining water efficiency.
Each planter houses a different herb, plant or vegetable including broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and radishes.
“This is a little learning lesson. We wanted to see what works and right now we are experimenting” said Deb Clark.
Most recently, the local Girl Scouts came by one Saturday and made their own box and decorated with garden fairies.
Along with the 12 boxes, a boat became shipwrecked at the front of the garden. The donated, pale blue S.S. Les now takes care of sprouting rosemary, lavender and primrose.
Every item, plant and act of labor has been donated and is volunteer-based.
As for the clients of New Horizons, the initiators of the project, they have helped every step of the way with moving and pouring soil and planting seeds. Their latest addition to the garden is the project in the greenhouse activity center on at the New Horizons Center involving making mosiac-decorative stepping stones. Each stone is going to commemorate every individual and business that has contributed to the Les Galst Community Garden. The stones will make a path connecting each box.
Eventually, the group would like to establish a program where personal gardeners can lease a planter box. The goal is that the food produced from the garden will be shared with the community.
“We hope to start a farmer’s market in the fall. We want a pumpkin patch for the kids and give to the food bank.”
The next step in the garden’s development is the construction of a small building to run the farmer’s market. In the center, there are plans to add a large flag pole with colorful shade sails. The intent is to provide a more inviting area for events such as demonstrations, meetings, weddings, parties, wine tastings, painting parties and more.
The garden provides an opportunity to create a sense of community, to make new friends, to educate others and to eat fresh food straight from the source.
The Les Galst Community Garden is a growing success, but it needs the help of every community member to flourish. There are volunteer workdays every other Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. The workdays are free and open to the public. Donations of money and supplies are also needed and appreciated.
For more information, please visit:
Facebook: Lake Havasu Community Garden
Phone Number: 928-855-9392