Growing the Community Garden
The waiting list for a piece of land in the Aspen Community Garden may seem intimidating now—at nearly 70 names— but it’s not as competitive as the original method for securing a plot to tend. In the early days prospective gardeners had to actually come out and stand on their land to claim it—hopefully not resulting in food fights.
The community garden, which sits on the Marolt Open Space to the northwest of Aspen, was started by Larry Dunn. He worked for the county and founded a similar garden in Colorado Springs. Ed Compton, a volunteer who lived nearby in senior housing and wanted a place to grow food, helped him.
When their first crop popped up in July 1978, The Aspen Times proclaimed “They are so proud of their little radish.” Soon after, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and onions rose from the ground. Initially more than 75 people worked 34 gardens, each stretching 10 by 20 feet.
Today there are 51 plots with a 26-plot expansion to be completed this spring with assistance from the City of Aspen. Growers pay an annual fee of $40, and the gardens include irrigation, deer fencing and, of course, neighborly camaraderie.
Because of Aspen’s nearly 8,000-foot altitude, hardy cold-weather plants like spinach, kale, lettuce and root vegetables grow best. Planting depends on the seasonal snowfall, but there is usually activity by mid-May.
There’s always something growing at the Aspen Community Garden, including residents’ appetite for being a part of it. For more information, or to get on the waiting list, email AspenCommunityGarden@gmail.com.
Edible Traditions is produced by the Aspen Historical Society. For access to the full online archives, including more than 10,000 historic images, visit AspenHistory.org or call 970.925.3721.