A gem nestled in downtown Mesa that began with an idea and an empty lot, became the Mesa Urban Garden—a third of an acre sprawling with beds of vegetables, bright flowers, and free space for the community to gather.
David Crummey, chairperson of the volunteer-run Mesa Urban Garden (MUG) Board of Directors said he hopes that people see and use MUG as a community gathering space.
“The entire purpose of the garden is to be a community resource and community gathering place and the gardening is really just the excuse,” said Crummey.
Mesa Urban Garden has helped build a community since 2012 by providing residents, individuals, businesses and organizations with beds to rent so they can grow their own vegetables.
For $80 a year, you can rent a 4-foot-by-6-foot garden bed and for $120 a year, you can rent a 4-foot-by -12-foot bed. After selecting and purchasing their bed online or by calling, a MUG board member meets the individual wanting to rent the bed at the garden, they select the bed and plant it.
Along with the rental, the following is included: high quality compost and soil, battery-operated irrigation timer, drip irrigation system, on-site setup and support, tool access and storage, tool storage, garden events, classes and contests and a newsletter from MUG.
Crummey said businesses have planted beds as teambuilding exercises, and businesses have sponsored a bed for those who aren’t able to pay full price to rent a bed.
In addition, Mesa Urban Garden also gives back. Crummey said they have from 10 to 12 beds whose produce (mostly chilies and tomatoes) goes directly to the United Food Bank.
MUG also hosts events for members of the community to come together and celebrate art and music.
“The rest of our community mission is we hold art shows and music nights, we do monthly yoga and are going to start a monthly exercise event,” Crummey said. “We want to make sure people take advantage of the garden as a community gathering space. The board encourages people to be involved in the garden and community aspects of the garden.”
Jaime Glasser, MUG board member, said the board is not in it for themselves. She said they want to make a community that is inclusive and welcoming.
“We are small, a grassroots organization…as we help our community, it’s helped us be more effective to help the community and helps others see the community,” Glasser said. “I hope more people around there will see the downtown as their downtown and come together across cultural lines and across age and ethnicity and get together.
“When you do something with somebody like digging the dirt or make an art project or come together and see art, you stop looking at each other as others,” Glasser said. “So I hope that we can help feed people that need food, help make people more healthy with connections with each other and in a larger sense, connect us to a greater community of people who are doing the same things.”
The Mesa Urban Garden is located at 212 E. 1st Ave. To learn more, visit: MesaUrbanGarden.org.
– Mesa resident Alyssa Tufts is a freelance reporter for MyNewsMesa.com.