The Crestone Eagle • April, 2021
Atalanta Cooperative Garden
by Joanna Dokson
The Atalanta Cooperative Garden has openings for both working and non-working members this year. Located on the north bank of Willow Creek, the garden is in its 21th year on the Atalanta Project land. The garden has been producing food for members, as well as the Crestone Food Bank, each summer with the help of working members. Only organic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers are used in the garden. Our water is from our solar-powered well.
Part of our mission is to share the experience of growing food and healthy eating. We have been honored to have mothers and preschoolers visit from Alamosa to help with the final harvests and a recipe exchange. Many of them had never tasted or seen some of the veggies in the garden. This year for the second time, we are planning to host an international group, the Human Force. This is subject to travel and gathering restrictions should the coronavirus epidemic still be ongoing. 2020’s planned activities with Human Force were canceled. We look forward to spending time with these volunteers, learning from them, sharing the heritage of our valley, community and our project, and benefitting from their volunteer help as we did in 2019. Our first volunteers with Human Force were from First Nations in Canada as well as other Canadians and from Asia, South America and Europe. They helped stucco and improve a large root cellar in 2019, as well as learning and working in the garden.
Each year a wide variety of veggies are grown, from asparagus to potatoes, greens to tomatoes, peas and beans, peppers and radishes, carrots, garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, parsnips, broccoli, cabbage, winter and summer squash, eggplant, tomatillos, cucumbers and many herbs. An orchard is being established with apple, plum, and cherry trees and berry bushes. Members may also purchase eggs and goat milk from Atalanta.
Members can sign up for half or full shares. A full working share is $50 and a non-working share is $300. A full share is generally enough for a family of four or more. Share contents and amounts change and increase throughout the growing season. Last year’s harvest yielded 17 to 20 lbs per week during the height of the season. Non-working members have their shares delivered while working members take their share home after harvest each week. Working members help with planting, harvesting and maintaining the garden, which is watered by soaker and drip irrigation on timers.
We are happy to share that for the fourth year, after submitting a proposal, the garden was chosen to participate in a crowd-funding effort sponsored by SeedMoney, a nonprofit offering financial and technical support to public food garden projects around the world. We again raised enough money to fund some wonderful improvements. Third year improvements included creating shade areas for veggies that find our sun and heat a bit much. These had the added benefit of protecting plants from a late hail storm. The fourth year improvements include putting a finish coat on the entire garden building, finishing a firm pathway for the accessible table-height planting beds, and replacing an open water cistern with an enclosed one so all water is potable year round. Thank you to everyone who donated!