Growing Communities in Urban Spaces

As Salt Lake continues to grow, and more residents begin to live on smaller parcels of land or in apartments, there is a greater need for community space that both provides local, healthy produce for residents and allows them to experience the joys of gardening. Wasatch Community Gardens (WCG) has a fresh approach to this produce predicament. 

WCG gives community members the opportunity to plant, tend, and harvest their own food on rented plots of land. Through their Green City Growers program, WCG, in partnership with the Salt Lake City Parks Department, develops community gardens on Salt Lake City public land that is considered underutilized. By using these plots of land for community gardens, WCG is able to help those who may not have access to their own yard to grow and harvest fresh produce. 

Gardeners not only cultivate their individually rented plots, they are active participants in making garden decisions, maintaining common areas of the gardens, and contributing to overall improvement of the gardens. In workshops, participants learn how to maintain a successful garden, and through its 30 years of experience, WCG has enriched the social fabric of our neighborhoods through its gardens.

The Community Foundation of Utah is a proud supporter of this work. In 2014, WCG was awarded a matching grant of $25,000 from the Utah Natural Heritage Fund for their 337 Garden. In 2018, another $10,000 grant was awarded to WCG to support their Gateway Community Garden. Thanks in part to generous donations totalling over $143,000 from other Community Foundation of Utah donors, WCG now has 16 gardens throughout the Salt Lake area. 

These community garden locations are within walking distance from their gardeners' homes or near public transit access. The central location of the 337 Garden is accessible for many Utahns experiencing homelessness, providing them access to fresh food and an opportunity to engage with the broader community. The Gateway Community Garden, which was requested by local community members, is centrally located in the most densely populated area of Salt Lake City. With 100 garden plots, this location serves a wide range of residents which is crucial to the mission of WCG to empower people of all ages and incomes to grow and eat healthy, organic, local food. 

In 2018, over 400 households grew food on WCG plots. Many of the individuals and families WCG serves are from low income households, making these opportunities for fresh, affordable food vital both nutritionally and financially.

The Community Foundation of Utah is excited to support sustainable organizations that serve diverse communities across our state. As we look to the future of Utah’s ever-growing urban populations, there will be a need to nurture innovative organizations - like WCG - and bring more creative solutions to the table. 

Visit the Wasatch Community Gardens website to learn more about their mission, programs and opportunities to get involved.

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