By Thea Skinner
Green thumbs are cultivating Peterson Air Force Base as part of the Go Grow Green initiative, which primarily provides Airmen and their families access to fresh produce.
The program encompasses an adopt-a-plant and adopt-a-plot program, as well as a garden crop share program through Community Supported Agriculture, known as CSA, and an incentive at farmers markets.
“Gardening on your own gives the ability to raise organic fruits and vegetables. If you grow vegetables yourself, you are more likely to eat them and try new ones,” said Terri Fisher, 21st Space Wing Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Health and Wellness Center health education program manager. “It is also a way to bring the family together – a summertime activity. Those who live in base housing do not have gardens, so we wanted an opportunity to provide gardens.”
The Peterson community garden, located at Pikes Peak Community College in south Colorado Springs, contains gardening plots for planting produce. Twenty three-by-eight feet raised bed plots are available to civilians and active duty personnel.
Perspective plot owners apply through the Health and Wellness Center, known as HAWC, to adopt a plot, then tend to the soil and produce. The planting season starts at the end of May to yield a crop through September.
“A garden is kind of like adopting a pet – you need to be committed,” she said. “The more fruits and vegetables you can eat the better, and it is not based on the food pyramid’s eat five.”
The HAWC also plans to hold field trips to the community garden, encouraging farming for children at the Richard P. Lee Youth Center.
Children at the center planted spicy herb seeds May 1, and will grow the plants for the adopt-a-plant portion of the initiative. Adult plants will be adopted and taken home by Airmen and their families. Some teachers are incorporating the plants into a curriculum.
“You know we have an adopt a park, but not an adopt a plant,” said Mary Lou Simpson, training and curriculum specialist at the center. “It gives (children) a chance to learn about the process and what grows out of the plant.”
During the 2009 summer, children at the center along with the boys and girls club and the HAWC will maintain a small garden in the playground area at the center. Children will learn to harvest the garden and cook with the produce.
The local garden crop share through CSA provides the option to pre-pay for several weeks of produce. The produce is picked-up at a farmer’s market with a punch card or delivered to the HAWC for pick-up once a week.
Heritage Center Farmers Market begins the first week in June in west Colorado Springs. At the market, the Peterson community receives a discount at the Heritage Belle Farm stand. The stand is also a pick-up point for the crop share produce.
“You buy shares ahead of the season to help pay for seeds and pick-up a box of produce,” said Katie Rosing, urban farmer of the Calhan farm.
The market is located at the Cheyenne Mountain Heritage Center at Cheyenne Road and 12th Street in Colorado Springs. Adopt a plant pick-up occurs in June with a May deadline to adopt-a-plot at the community garden. The garden is at Pikes Peak Community College, Centennial Campus, 5675 South Academy Blvd. in Colorado Springs. For more information contact the HAWC at 556-4292.