May 26th 2012, 03:09 AM
Today, I got the bestest news ever.
Long story short:
My community garden doesn't have a water tap because of how expensive it is. So this is something I've been very discouraged about ever actually make happen. On top of that, the way we do get water is a source of frustration for me on a frequent basis, and causes stress in the garden between members, AND I was pretty sure we were being screwed over. I found out today that chances are, I'm going to, in fact, have a water tap in my garden at an absolute maximum time frame of the end of this year.
Long story long, like really long, because I'm still all giddy about it:
I took over coordinating the community garden I'm part of this year, the previous coordinator had to step down. Boy was I surprised when I got the garden checkbook and saw our balance. Our biggest expense is water and we barely pay for that each year. And, after getting all the numbers, I was pretty sure we were knowingly being taken advantage of by the person from whom we get our water, and the previous coordinator was letting it happen. (Or he was *really really really* bad at math.) So, I've been trying to find any way at all to get us out of this situation with her.
The people who own this land we're on lease it to us at no cost, but it does not have a water tap and the owners are not willing to pay for one, and I don't blame them. Here in Colorado Springs, for the size tap we'd need, it starts at about $15,000. That's only fees paid to the city, that doesn't include paying the contractor to put in the pipes or paying for all the permits and inspections you need to do it.
So four years ago, the garden made an agreement with a neighbor. We pay her a fee, and then also pay her twice the cost of water for all the water we use for her to fill our cistern. Which amounts to paying about 3 times what we would be paying if we had our own tap, and is about 85% of our budget each year. And...well, to put it mildly, this woman is about the nastiest piece of work I've ever come across.
My husband is a wonderful man. He has the patience of Job. He is kind and gentle and always looks for the best in every person and every situation and rarely loses his temper. And he can't stand her, and absolutely refuses to deal with her and he will literally leave the garden if we're over there working and she comes over.
So, I get my nearly-every-two-weeks-on-the-dot call from her this morning and it was just as unpleasant as every other phone call I've had with her this year, and included her demanding that I kick someone out of the garden, and I had flat out had enough. By Gosh, I was going to find out the exact tap fee cost, and I was going to beg, borrow, steal, do everything in my power over the course of this year to make sure we could get rid of her.
I'm on the phone with the utitilities department after a while, trying to get exact amounts or at least a close estimate and you just won't believe this.
Turns out...a city ordinance 4 years in the making just passed last week in city council. From now on, in Colorado Springs, when a tap fee is assessed for a property that is going to be used for a community garden, the tap fee is defered, and the total is about $300 for the permits and inspections.
I think the city planner person I was talking to thought I was insane, becaues I just started blurbering "really, I mean, really, seriously? You're not messing with me?" And now my garden is looking at paying a contractor, plus $300, down from having to pay around $20k.
But it doesn't even end there. I said the bit in chat about being so happy when I found all this out, but it got EVEN BETTER.
My garden was started by a non-profit organization in town that does just that, goes out and starts community gardens. I got in touch with the man in charge there when I took over, started talking with him about fundraising and how much I wanted to improve the garden and this and that.
I found out over the course of today that this man, and this group, were integral in getting this city ordinance passed, and have been working on it for 4 years. Yeah...it started right about the time my garden was started...and in part was because of the difficulties they faced when they were starting our garden, and the difficulty we've had over the years with this woman who we pay for water.
And so I wanted to call him when I found this out, to mostly say "Thank you for working to get the city to do this, and congratulations." I mean, completely aside from my own garden benefiting, this is a FANTASTIC thing for the city to do and he's been working all this time to make it happen.
I left him a voice mail basically saying "I just heard the news, that's so great!! Give me a call after the holiday weekend, I want to get the ball rolling on this and get [that fundraiser we'd talked about] set up for next month."
He called me back in less than 5 minutes, and he says to me, before I can say anything, basically: "Natalie, if you can do all the footwork on this, get the applications filed and the permits and get some bids and find a contractor, we [his organization] will pay for it. We don't want you all to have to go through another season of having to pay for water like you do now."
I started crying, I honestly did, right there on the phone.
In a day's time, getting a tap for the garden has gone from $20K to zero.
May 26th 2012, 06:00 AM
nice story... sometimes things do work out so that the best side of mankind is fully reveal.
speaking of community gardens, watering these and doing the right thing.... have you ever read Dwaye's Depressed (mcmurtry)?
May 26th 2012, 06:21 AM
I have not, tec...but sounds like maybe something I should pick up. I've always meant to read some McMurtry and just never got around to it. I am more of a space opera gal than a western one, but I love *any* good story.
I am so proud of my city right now. I sent emails and made calls to the Mayor and the city council, thanking them for passing the ordinance. It was part of a series of outdoors and community area improvements including a lot of work on parks and other open areas as well.
Next stop...bees at city hall?!?
May 26th 2012, 06:58 AM
That's wonderful news. I'm very happy for you. I hope your garden prospers. Maybe you can put some pollinators in there!
I thought that name McMurtry sounded familiar. He's the lonesome dove guy. His son (James McMurtry) is one of my favorite musicians. He's not mainstream, but I really like his songs and his guitar playing is very unconventional.
May 26th 2012, 07:10 AM
That's awesome. ...
May 26th 2012, 07:14 AM
Already got some ladies in the garden, so we're covered there. My husband and I wanted to install a garden hive, and there was the kind of classic response at first of OHGODBEES! But, we managed to get a whole group of the garden folks together at a potluck near our hives one day, in the fall, and without gear or smoke or anything we pulled a couple "frames full of bees" (they were super frames, fully capped, with only a few workers, heh, we cheated) to show everyone, and let them smell them up close.
Originally Posted by Slowmodem
Pretty much immediately after that potluck, and everyone there getting a nice big whiff of that warm frame full of honey...everyone suddenly thought, hey, maybe this isn't such a bad idea after all!
May 26th 2012, 12:26 PM
Such good news..... Glad it is working out.
What is the outcome of the garden, does the food go to charity or is it just own use.
May 26th 2012, 12:51 PM
Great story! Happy for the garden group and the outcome!
Tonja and Steve
May 26th 2012, 01:07 PM
The garden plots are ours, in a sense we "rent" them from the community garden so each person keeps what they grow. That's the idea of the community garden in part, to have an affordable space for anyone to garden, especially people who don't have their own space at home. (And one reason we want to save on water, and not raise plot fees, so that everything from tools to seeds is provided for members.)
Originally Posted by Zulu
We have one plot in our garden, though, that is all heavy producers (beans, zucchini, carrots, brussels) and we all care for it, sharing the watering and weeding and such, and everything from that plot goes to a food bank program in town called Care and Share. Towards the end of summer, we start taking over a cooler a week to them, and any extra people want to drop in the cooler, which people typically do!
May 26th 2012, 04:45 PM
That is really wonderful news! And what the heck is wrong with me, i welled up, too. Hormones.
You must be on cloud 9.
I guess I can relate, I worked hard to get playground equipment at my daughters school, and I just lost it when the call came in that we were funded and ready to order. Ahh...good times.
Congratulations on all your hard work, and I for one would love to see the "opening of the tap" ceremony!
May 26th 2012, 04:56 PM
I did not even *think* of that! Thank you, I am so totally going to throw that into the planning mix now.
Originally Posted by vermillion
May 26th 2012, 06:31 PM
Great! I am sure you can make a fun event out of that....