Fairfield Community Garden: A Source of Pride & Fresh Food for Everyone

The new Fairfield Community Garden beds await gardeners (photo by Werner Elmker).

Interest in community gardens has surged in recent years around the world—and not just in urban areas. In Fairfield, a once-forgotten space near O.B. Nelson Park has been transformed into the Fairfield Community Garden, a fresh opportunity for growth and future development. Community gardens provide plots of land for people to grow edibles for themselves and their community. But they’re more than just a place to grow food—they’re also an avenue for learning new skills, connecting with others, improving mental health, and exercising in the great outdoors.

Getting Grounded

Thanks to the collective efforts of city sponsors, business leaders, and sustainability-minded community members, the first phase of the project has successfully taken root. Last fall, the Fairfield Community Garden’s inaugural fundraising efforts amassed over $9,000 in donations. This paved the way for the initial 100′ x 100′ site development—the construction of 40 large raised beds, the installation of landscape fabric under the pathways, and the addition of tall fencing to protect the garden from wildlife. The project is now preparing to open its gates for the very first growing season during the first week of April.

Community garden volunteers met earlier this year to help get the project ready.

Up to 40 garden plots will be available for lease on a first-come, first-served basis, with sponsored memberships available for low- to moderate-income households. Nonprofits and educational organizations are also encouraged to participate, inviting possibilities to share nutritious harvests with families in Jefferson County struggling with food insecurity.

“Community gardens are known for providing a space to grow healthy food,” says Barbara Rainbow, a steering committee member of the garden project. “But what attracts me most is the opportunity to bring people from all walks of life together and provide opportunities to learn, share, listen, and enjoy.” Since 2022, Barbara has worked tirelessly with the City of Fairfield and other organizations to bring her community garden dream into the tangible reality that it has become today.

Building Up the Garden

While a huge amount of time, thought, and fundraising power has already gone into the project, including city-sponsored efforts to install a brand new water line, the garden’s greatest potential has yet to be realized. An additional $16,000 fundraising goal has been set to fill all 40 raised beds with top-quality garden soil, purchase supplies for members to use, construct an 8′ x 10′ tool shed, and add amenities that will enrich the overall experience for members and visitors alike.

Volunteers build the new tool shed (photo by Werner Elmker).

Planned additions for future seasons include perennials to support biodiversity, a rainwater collection system, and communal spaces like an awning-covered picnic table that invites members to linger and enjoy the fruits of their collective labor.

Growing Community

This initiative, supported by the City of Fairfield, the Sustainable Living Coalition, and the Fairfield Volunteer Center, along with generous contributions from local businesses, seeks to cultivate more than just fresh produce. It aims to nurture community spirit, offer valuable education, and provide a tangible way for residents to learn important sustainable food-growing practices.

Thanks to contributions from individuals like Barbara Rainbow, Faith Reeves, Bob Ferguson, Tiffany April Raines, and Karen DeAngelis, the garden will not only supply fresh produce for its members, but also serve as an active outdoor classroom and opportunity for people to come together with a common cause. Faith Reeves, Fairfield’s Sustainability Coordinator, will be contributing her knowledge of soil science and small-scale farming to ensure that all members of the garden have the knowledge they need to succeed well into harvest season.

Barbara Rainbow in her garden

“We’re not just growing vegetables out here, we’re growing community,” says Barbara Rainbow. “We’re demonstrating that irrespective of background, we’re all united in our basic need for nourishment—from the food we grow and eat to the rewarding connections that we make with each other in and out of our garden.”

Fairfield residents are encouraged to reserve their garden plots right away, volunteer their time, and donate to the cause if they’re so able. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or have never touched a trowel in your life, there’s a place for you in the Fairfield Community Garden.

Reserve a Plot

Fairfield residents interested in securing a plot for the 2024 growing season can visit fairfield-community-garden.org for details on membership. Garden seedlings will be available at subsidized costs, grown by Tiffany April Raines of Wild Spirits Farm here in Fairfield.