A display in a garden

Garden of Eatin’

A sign on the side of a buildingThe Garden of Eatin’ is a community garden on the campus of Esperanza Lutheran Church, inviting public participation to promote sustainable organic gardening practices, living and sharing from the bounty of our desert garden community. We strive to foster multicultural and multigenerational participation, provide educational opportunities, partner with other local organizations and give back to the community through food donation programs and other inspired ideas for a greener, friendlier world.

A close up of a tomato on a leaf

We started planning and construction of the garden in 2012, and our official Grand Opening was in October 2014.

What’s in the Garden?
The garden contains twenty raised beds suitable for growing vegetables, flowers, etc.: nineteen of these are 4′ x 12′, and one is slightly narrower and taller than the others for improved accessibility. 

The garden also hosts the following:

• A little free library (#23150) containing gardening books for both adults and children.
• A composting area.
• A vegetable-washing station.
• A picnic table.

How To Get Started

If you’d like to try your hand at gardening, we usually have a few beds available. The beds are available for rent on a yearly basis — the current rate is $100 per year, which includes compost and irrigation. We encourage participation from anyone in our broader community — no other affiliation with the church is needed or expected. Normally, a rental period starts at the beginning of September and runs through the end of August, but you can start anytime for a pro rata amount.

There are just a few steps to get started:

• Contact us by emailing [email protected], and we’ll line up someone from the garden to give you a tour. You’ll be able to pick out one of the vacant beds if you’d like.
• Read over our guidelines.
• Fill out the application form and write a check for the full-year or pro-rata amount (as explained on the form) to “Esperanza Lutheran Church” with Garden of Eatin’ on the memo line.
• Take the form and check to the church office during regular hours (you may call 480-759-1515 to determine a good time) or give it to someone from the garden, for example, the person who gave you the tour.
• You can start using the chosen bed right away, or you can wait for the next garden work-day, and some of the other gardeners can help you with getting your compost and irrigation set up.

Whether or not you’re ready to start a garden, you’re still very welcome to attend any of our activities. To find out what’s going on, follow our Facebook page.

Some of our past activities include the following:

A group of people standing next to an umbrella

• Semi-regular work days during fall, winter, and spring. These usually include compost turning, helping any new gardeners get started, general cleanup, and most importantly, a potluck meal or snacks.
• Semi-regular meetings to plan upcoming events and take care of business items like our recent water usage and bank-account balance. These are often held in conjunction with a work day. Occasionally, we have a guest lecture on gardening tips.
• Wine tasting events.
• Art-in-the-Garden events, involving local artists of all ages.
• Field trips to other community gardens or gardening-related venues.

If you’d like to contribute to our compost, you can deposit your table scraps and similar compostable material in the converted garbage bins at the far end of the church parking lot. Please take a look at the list of what “green” and “brown” items are compostable and what things are not by visiting this link at the EPA. (One exception is eggshells, which we don’t need locally because of our soil composition.)

In addition, much of our garden has been constructed by BSA scouting groups organized by a scout working on his or her Eagle Scout project. Other help has come from students in local schools in search of community-service hours.

If you’re looking for a local community project, please email [email protected] to see if we have a need that might fit your interest.

Gardening Resources

As mentioned above, we have a few gardening books in our little free library you can use for reference. One favorite is Extreme Gardening: How to Grow Organic in the Hostile Deserts by David Owens, available by visiting this link at Amazon or other retailers.

The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Office has a wonderful month-by-month local vegetable planting guide for both seeds and transplants that is an indispensable resource.

We look forward to seeing you in the Garden of Eatin’!

For a slightly larger version of the Garden map below, click here for the map and application.