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Harvesting veggies and neighborliness, Winchester Estates’ community garden blooms

Oct 03, 2017 05:16PM ● Published by Shaun Delliskave

Marse Lugenbeel tends to a pumpkin patch. (James Delliskave)

Gallery: Community garden [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

A community garden behind a mobile home complex in Murray is taking root. As it does, residents there are coming together as a community to not only tend the garden but build neighborly relationships as well.

The garden represents a change in residents’ concerns from just over a year ago, when the mobile home park faced an uncertain future, as the estate of the park’s owner decided to put the 57 acres up for sale. Residents, many on fixed incomes—who own their homes on the land but rent their lots— successfully petitioned Murray City Council to keep the zoning for residential manufactured homes. To the relief of homeowners, IGP, the new park owner, is now thinking of expanding the park.

The forgotten weed-choked area at the south end of the Winchester Estates subdivision on Winchester Street, borders undeveloped land on the Jordan River Parkway.  Now budding on the site are four themed gardens to beautify and unite the 200 residents. 

“It was loaded with weeds and several of the lilac bushes had died from lack of water. It is the main area to walk our dogs and the foxtail weeds were a problem, so we decided to try to clean it up,” said resident Marse Lugenbeel.

It’s all been blooming since spring thanks, in part, to Lugenbeel and neighbors Leni Mitchie and Chris and Patti Phillips who came up with the idea to make it a community beautification project.

“Our main challenge has been keeping up with the weeds. A landscape barrier cloth is buried under years of dirt.  We need to cut through this to plant anything.  Also, gophers love it,” remarked Lugenbeel.

As the idea took hold, community volunteers rejuvenated the area into a recreation space. The volunteers have done everything from donating flowers to installing a drip-irrigation system. Even non-residents and businesses have made donations to the garden, including Okubo Farms. Garden contributors have scoured nursery clearance sales and have transplanted tubers and perennials from their own yards to add to their new public center.

“We think it is fabulous,” said Shayleena Gaitan of IGP. “It’s brought the community closer together.”

The plot is a long narrow piece that has been divided into separate themes, and a path connects them. The designs include a Zen area, a desert area, a beach area, and a tribute to military veterans. More themes are being planned with various places where visitors can stop and rest. The garden is demarcated with what the garden founders call “Peace Poles.” 

“So many people have been walking by to look at all the fun stuff,” said Lugenbeel as she attends to the veteran’s garden and cleans a brick that adorns her husband’s name; one of many veterans who live in the mobile home park. “It has been getting people out that haven’t been out for a long time. It is so much fun to see the response.”

Between the carousel horse and other ornaments, vegetables are nearing harvest. Residents are free to take the produce, which Lugenbeel hopes to increase the number of plants next year.

Companionship, camaraderie, and a sense of community are all part of the garden’s popularity. To celebrate its first year, a neighborhood “street party” was thrown on Aug. 30. The event included live music and food.  

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