Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hunger Coalition to manage Hailey community garden

Design meeting slated for next Wednesday


By JON DUVAL
Express Staff Writer

A new community garden took another step toward becoming reality with the Hunger Coalition stepping in to manage the downtown Hailey site.

The Blaine County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a proposal that would put the Hailey-based Hunger Coalition in charge of a garden to be built on the corner of Walnut Street and First Avenue.

The currently vacant site is the former location of the Blaine County Sheriff's Office, which is now in a new facility near Friedman Memorial Airport.

The idea of a garden was first put forward in January by an ad-hoc committee comprised of members of the Hunger Coalition, the Farmers' Market, the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission, the Wood River Land Trust, Citizens for Smart Growth and the Blaine County Commission.

Proposals for the quarter-acre site were due on Feb. 10, with a proposal from the Hunger Coalition and another from Kelley Weston, president and founder of Hailey-based landscape architecture firm Native Landscapes.

However, on Tuesday, Weston said he had spoken with Brooke Bonner, president of the Hunger Coalition, prior to the meeting and decided he would be able to contribute more as a technical advisor to the coalition's plan.

In her proposal letter to the commission, Bonner wrote that the coalition is "prepared to commit the necessary finances, staff and volunteer time, and other organizational needs to make this a successful and beneficial project for Blaine County."

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At the meeting, Bonner said the coalition would create a part-time position to oversee the management aspects of the garden, including organizing volunteers and working as a point of contact for educators looking to use the garden as a tool for students.

The coalition, which has a goal of ending hunger in the county, would use the garden to help clients as well as any other interested members of the community.

"There are many options available," Bonner told the commission. "Our clients, students, the Sawtooth Botanical Garden can all be partners."

Nathan Welch, executive director of Citizens for Smart Growth, said he hopes this community collaboration will begin next week at an initial design meeting.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. at the Old County Courthouse, and Weston said he would appreciate other landscape architects attending to get a variety of design ideas.

"We're encouraging people from all walks of life to come out and pitch in with ideas," Welch said in an interview.

At a previous meeting on the project in January, Welch said ground could be broken on the garden as early as May.

Jon Duval: jduval@mtexpress.com




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