This crop of potatoes of the first of many in the Glory Hole Community Garden. Planted with the help of SAGA volunteers, the potatoes are located behind the shelter on the hillside, which is being landscaped to provide plots for community members to cultivate and other plots for Glory Hole purposes. A public meeting about the garden will be held on September 10.
Story last updated at 8/5/2009 - 12:30 pm
JUNEAU - Not far from the hustle and bustle of Alaska's Capital, a few potato plants are seeing the sun for the first time. In time, the vegetables will end up on the plates of the hungry at The Glory Hole Shelter.
This crop of potatoes is the first of many in the Glory Hole Community Garden. Thanks to a grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation and another contribution from Simone Machamer, a part-time Juneau resident who made a pledge through the Juneau Community Foundation, the Glory Hole staff plans for the garden to be fully operational by next year.
Glory Hole executive director Mariya Lovishchuk said she hopes the garden will be both nutritional and therapeutic for the shelter's patrons as well as benefit the entire Juneau community.
The garden, which is being constructed on the hillside behind the shelter, will eventually expand onto the rooftop, as funding allows. Since the garden will be a community garden, roughly half of the plots will be available for community members to cultivate and half will be dedicated for Glory Hole purposes.
Lovishchuk said the community support in the planning stages has been very encouraging and the project has become a community effort. The Glory Hole started the process alone, but various people and organizations jumped on board along the way, including Darren Snyder of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. Snyder, who has created several productive community gardens around Juneau, is designing the Glory Hole's garden. Robert Billideau, a community volunteer and the Glory Hole's webmaster, is also helping in the planning stages.
"People kept on telling me, 'You should call so and so because they know a lot about gardening,' and I did," Lovishchuk said. "Everyone I called so far is willing to help with time, expertise and labor. It's amazing."
Coincidently, several of the Glory Hole's board members happen to be master gardeners and have expressed their support for the garden.
"People are excited about this," Lovishchuk said. "The more heads and I think the more hands on this project, the better."
Another volunteer on the project is Robert Bellagh, a commissioner for the Juneau Commission on Sustainability. He has plans for a 3-bin compost system, which he said "will be the heart of the garden." The compost system will be bear-proof and planners estimate that it will reduce Glory Hole's food waste by at least 70 percent.
"We are the last place that should be wasting food," Lovishchuk said.
The Alaskan Brewing Company has also agreed to donate waste from the brewery to the garden for composting.
As soon as landscaping and construction is completed in the garden, the Glory Hole hopes to harvest chard, spinach, lettuce, kale, broccoli, peas, cabbage, potatoes, onions, garlic, herbs and more.
"I really think local sources of food are important," Lovishchuk said.
But it's not just the menu that Lovishchuk hopes to improve with the garden project.
"I want the patrons to have something to do that is meaningful and good, and I want community members to interact with one another, on a great project, side by side," Lovishchuk said. "I want the Glory Hole to be a productive member of the Juneau Community. The Glory Hole Community garden will be our way to do this."
A public meeting about the Glory Hole Community Garden is scheduled for September 10 and information about the garden is available through the Glory Hole website at http://www.feedjuneau.org.