WEST LARAMIE -- Join Feeding Laramie Valley for the Grand Opening celebration of the new community garden from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 at Kiwanis Park in West Laramie.

The celebration will feature garden tours, music, booths, food, games, prizes, plot reservations and more. All are welcome to attend this free event.

Katherine Case, FLV Community Garden Coordinator, and members of the UW Business Ethics Class who are working with FLV on the garden as a school project. (Courtesy of FLV)

Katherine Case is the AmeriCorps/VISTA representative for Feeding Laramie Valley and is the organization’s Community Garden Coordinator.

She said other informational booths besides Feeding Laramie Valley will also be set up at the park, including High Plains Seed Library, Barnyard Backyard magazine, the Laramie Garden Club, and Master Gardeners of Laramie from the UW Extension.

“The open house will be a place where anyone who is interested in gardening, either with us or in general, can connect with different groups, support systems, and resources while also celebrating the garden,” Case said.

Case said on the celebration side of the event, there will be live music, free, healthy food, games, prizes, and garden tours.

“Also, Girl Scouts and students from Velma Linford Elementary School painted some of the decorative pots for the garden, and they will be on display. The kids are excited to come to see their work, and filling them up with soil!” said Case.

Case said the community garden at Kiwanis Park is coming to fruition after 3 years of planning and preparation that started with an advisory board made up of West Laramie residents. They made the community garden proposal to the Laramie City Council, who approved the project.

The group pursued grant funding and was awarded an AARP grant last year to get it started.

“We actually got the funding, the plans, and everything together, the city permission, last November. That’s when we started building. Then we had to take a winter break, and we picked it back up in April,” said Case.

“We have 29 raised beds built, all the pathways are ADA acceptable, and we have beds specifically designed to be ADA approved, so they are higher off the ground than the standard beds. We also have steps/seats on the beds as well, so people with handicaps or disabilities will have all their needs met to the best of our ability.”

Case said Feeding Laramie Valley has several gardens around Albany County, including one at the Albany County Fairgrounds, called the FLV Farm.

“We take all our own compost materials there. We have a huge compost pile, and our CEO, Gayle Woodsum, supplies us with lots of manure from her farm, which after composting makes up the material added to the raised beds. We added 14 tons of topsoil from local companies. And people can bring their own manure and fertilizer, they can. We will also have a compost pile on site here, for grass and weeds.”

During the grand opening, Case said people will be able to register their preference for a raised bed. Based on the number of reservation requests, the group will review the requests.

“By Monday, everyone who has put in their preference should be assigned a plot stewardship. We will either mail or email them their welcome packets,” Case said.

“But Saturday during the grand opening will be the best chance for you to fill out your preference form. We’ll need to know if your family will be gardening with you, or if it’s a group gardening effort – just so we get all the information we need to get them the supplies they need to start successfully.”

Volunteer Rachel Surratt levels topsoil in a new raised bed at the Kiwanis Park Community Garden.

Case thanked all the volunteers “who came out in the wind, and snow, and rain with us, every weekend since we started. We will be doing something special for them during the grand opening, honoring all the work they have done for the community.”

Feeding Laramie Valley (FLV) is committed to working toward creating a sustainable and equitable food system and promoting food security throughout the Rocky Mountain Region—especially here in Albany County in Southeast Wyoming, the community we call home.

Since its founding in 2009, FLV works to fulfill its mission through increased food production, access, distribution, and educational efforts that encourage community-led food sovereignty. Feeding Laramie Valley grows its own fruits and vegetables, mentors and supports backyard gardeners, develops and helps with management of community gardens, and is deeply committed to partnerships with independent farmers.

Feeding Laramie Valley is located at 968 N. 9th St. in Laramie. Visit their web site at feedinglaramievalley.org, or contact them at info@feedinglaramievalley.org or 307-223-4399 for more information.