E27: The Palisade Community Garden Takes Root with Lu Frederick

Lu Frederick is leading the charge to develop the Palisade Community Garden in downtown Palisade, along with Lehl Chase-Nason.

Lu joins me to talk about the history of the garden, what’s been built so far, what’s next, and how you can get involved.

Learn all about how a hard-working team of volunteers is transforming a piece of undevelopable land by the railroad tracks from a weedy gravel lot into a thriving place for community members to gather, learn, and of course, grow!

Follow the Palisade Community Garden on Facebook.

Music: Riverbend by Geoff Roper.    


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Welcome to Postcards From Palisade, where we hear from the people who are shaping our slice of western Colorado. I’m Lisa McNamara.

Today I am chatting with Lu Frederick, who along with Lehl Chase-Nason, is leading the charge to develop the Palisade Community Garden in downtown Palisade. Lu shares the history of the garden, what’s been built so far, what’s next, and how you can get involved. Hear all about how a hard-working team of volunteers is transforming a piece of undevelopable land by the railroad tracks from a weedy gravel lot into a thriving place for community members to gather, learn, and of course, grow.

Building something like this from scratch is a huge effort, especially in our high desert climate. Lu, Lehl, and all the other volunteers have a long-term vision for this plot of land that will be most successful with the support of the Palisade community.

Learn all about it on today’s Postcard from Palisade.  

LF: I’m Lu Frederick. I’m one of the main representatives of the Palisade community garden here in Palisade at 470 west fourth Street.

LM: When and how did you get involved with the community garden?

LF: Well, last year, I It was my first time going ahead and living in this town, and I had traveled around in a camper for the last couple years, and every time I stopped here, it was just that full heart Palisade, community thing where your family and your community just kept growing. And I went from having three to five people to 20 people every time I came back, being like, oh, it’s so good to see you. So, naturally, when it came to, oh, where do I want to slow down and enjoy my stay and enjoy the seasons? Not just running through. Palisade was the first spot, and I worked at paddle board adventures company here in Palisade. And I started getting integrated more and more with people my own age and the community. And there was a couple people that had interest about creating a community garden in town. And so I started talking with Lehl, who is my other main partner with the community garden, and we are the main representatives, which were always looking for more people to participate. but we are the two that mainly are the backbone of everything. And so I spoke with her, and she was very into it and very motivated and a very intricate part to getting this going to where it is. so blessed for her. so we went ahead, and before we even present it to the town, we probed the community, answer, asking questions of what they would want, what was important to them. If they were going to have a community garden, why would they come to the community garden, what events, things like that. And that’s slowly the backbone of what started the community garden.

LM: people might not know this, but that’s actually town land, right?

LF: Yes it is. The Palisade town has gone ahead and donated to us. They also paid for the water rights. We are not an entity at all. We do not accept any money goods for the Palisade community garden, which they have helped make this be. But technically Lehl and I are the representatives who have signed on, to take responsibility for everything. but so we do not. We are not an entity. We’re not a donation or charity based, in the way of accepting money. We are donation based only. So the way the garden works, if you want to plot, which currently I think we’re at six or seven right now. And in the future we hope to grow those boxes for the community residential members. But if they want a plot and they don’t have land to grow vegetables on their residence here in Palisade, because some people have townhouses, they do a $25 donation, whether it’s a heavy duty hose or drip line accessory or something. And we sign the paperwork which just says about they have rights for the full year. They, no pesticides are allowed to be used. They’re not allowed to have shadows cast from from their box onto another box. And so like you have large hoop houses on your mini little plot.

LM: No sunflowers blocking all the other plots.

LF: Exactly. Also there is where if they do not go ahead and maintain the weeds in the property. Cause this is. We want it to look aesthetically pleasing to keep people interested and not look like a weed pit. So with that note, if we have a couple month period, ah, where we’ll give them notices and if they don’t take it over at that point, then they have vetoed the rights to have the plot. we also do have where a lot of businesses have been intricate and helpful for donating items in town. And we have a $200 donation item or items to go ahead and where we cross market them on social media as well for a whole year just to help the businesses. And I will say when we first stepped into this, we were, Lehl was very much. She’s like, I don’t want it to be a charity. I don’t want to go through that. And a lot of other community members didn’t like the idea of a charity either. So it was another thing to add fuel to that. And I thought it was going to hinder us with donations. Hasn’t. Our community is so supportive. The businesses have been amazing. Dan from the happy camper, I asked for just a simple metal shed from Lowe’s or something. And he was like, no, that’s not good enough. And he gave us an eight by ten fully constructed shed that was just dropped onto our plot. Donated also with Mor storage and sheds. They went ahead and helped him with that. And we’ve had so many other businesses donate items. like just recently it has I haven’t advertised it yet, but over at Palisade Brewing company, they went and, acquired us some hop plants so we can go ahead and start planning it for shade, because that is one of the big complaints about the garden, is we have no shade.

LM: No, that’s a full sun plot there.

LF: Yeah.

LM: So, okay, so that’s really interesting. So you and Lehl kind of put together a list of here are the things that we need, and then anything that’s going to be a $200 or above. That’s the kind of thing you would go to a business and say, hey, are you interested in providing anything of these things?

LF: We will even offer if they are only looking for a $100 or $50 donation we’ll work with them for the cross marketing for a shorter period of time. Our big thing is that we just want to try to get everything to make this garden happen. And, we’re just so happy that the, Palisade town went ahead and donated this last year to us. And thankfully, cross our fingers it’s going to keep going and it’s just steps in place. And I understand we got a lot. We get a lot of back heat, apparently, because the previous garden didn’t do well. So we are fighting a double edged sword there at times. But when you come out and you see the turnout for events and you also feel the vibe of the community that is helping out, they want this to happen.

LM: Right. And you are taking it in a different direction. I mean, you can really I think it’s important to be aware of the legacy you’re stepping into. But you’re also different people.

LF: We are.

LM: With a different plan and a different approach. so what kind of things are you still looking for from businesses?

LF: Okay, so right now, tomorrow we’re having at 08:00 a.m. to eleven, we’re having a fill our beds. So we’re starting to put soil into our beds. Then after that, oh, my little flyer I brought. I’ve been handing out the businesses because La Plaza, has been working with us, allowing us to use their printers here and there to start printing out things. Because besides that, we were just doing Facebook, which limits how many people that can see and know about our garden and the events. But so, on the 19th, at 09:00 a.m. from 09:00 a.m. to 10:30 at the garden, we’re going to have meeting of the minds drip talk, which is specifically a talk about all the way to set up our water for our garden. So that way, we don’t have to have someone outside on site every single day, doing every single thing. Now, weeding, that’s, once again, that’s a whole other thing. And we will schedule different things, but for the watering, that is something that it will be. Let them figure it out. The Palisade community garden is about the community. So we want the community to come together to put their input. I personally have very limited knowledge. Lehl has a little bit more understanding about the drip lines and stuff than I do. But there are so many people in this community, orchard members and everything, who understand all the irrigation of all different forms. Me, I’m like, if it’s underground, it’s irrigation, it’s above ground, it’s a drip line. The apparently they’re all irrigation. Oh, yeah. No, I don’t know the difference.

LM: So it’s a. Ah, I mean, the important thing is not knowing everything. It’s knowing who to ask. Right.

LF:, exactly. Resourcing.

LM: Yeah, exactly. This is what I tell myself all the time.

LF: My specific angle is mainly focused on the resourcing. And I do do a lot of the social media posts and setting up events, but once again, looking for other participants.

LM: Absolutely. Okay, so that makes sense for the businesses, but for individual plots. so basically the process is somebody expresses interest. You say, you’re in if you provide an item that’s 25 dollars value, then they get a plot, and they get it for a season basically?

LF: a full season. there is a, ah, because we’re currently in partially already into the season. Just to be fair to the people, I have offered them in full into the next year. And also, I feel like these people that are starting out with these donations, they’re so intricate. Their donations are most important right now to get us going. So offering them a little bit more, I feel it’s appropriate. And also after that, just on the donation base and next year is when we hopefully have everything we need for the garden to do the pay it forward and give back to the community thing, we will take a $25 donation with a purchase receipt of something. Just showing that you actually made the purchase to some other organization in town. Like one of the big ones I personally love to support is for the sculptures. I know Gary runs that one. And we’re trying to save a lot of the sculptures in town that have been real icons recently. And so something like that. That’s what we’re looking. So it. It’s, once again, not just about the garden, it’s about the community around.

LM: That’s cool. Very cool. So you would take that $25 and kind of pay it forward to another organization?

LF: Well, they would be paying it for it. They just be showing us proof of receipt and. Yes, 100%.

LM: Gotcha. Okay, so you’re established with items now. You’re like, your buy in is you donated to another organization.

LF: Yes, that’s right. We are not allowed to accept any money. And I think that is actually for a community organization. I think it’s a wonderful way to run it.

LM: That’s very cool. I love that idea because you definitely expand your reach then.

LF: Absolutely. And it also shows you that Lehl and I, we and any other participant, we have a couple other members that have really stepped forward. Joseph is one of them. He started and has started constructing hoop houses for teaching Kratky the Kratky method of soilless growing and. Yes, and there’s going to be seminars in the future. Free as well. Everything at the garden is free, except if there’s a food truck or something like that. But so we have other members stepping up, and I think it’s so important that no money, no scent gets put in our pockets. And we are truly about Palisade, and we want Palisade to have the best future possible.

LM: I love that idea. So, in addition to the individual plots, it sounds like there are other areas that you and Lehl and all the other key volunteers are going to maintain as well.

LF: Ah so, going on with the plots. I didn’t fully, describe this. So we have, we’re involving all three types of community plots. We are having community plots for the individuals to rent. We are having business plots for the businesses if they want to claim that have donated items to rent, or claim because they’ve donated the items, which only Pali Thai has because they were intricate at weeding last year. They were amazing. And if you watched any of the videos or seen the photos, just raise the roof.

LM: Looks like Mike and Pam made a lot

LF: Oh my gosh. They powerhoused it.

LM: Yeah. And then a lot of dump trips as well. Or composting trips.

LF: Yes, they filled it. Absolutely. They filled that trailer three different times. And then Mike brought in that tractor and cleared the by the railroad. So we wouldn’t have those weeds. So there was no issues with the idea of fires or anything. And just, you know, with the train going down there with the dead stuff, it really, the sparks that come off, it’s a little scary. So that just eases our mind with the kids so that we want to be involved in the garden in the future. But anyway, so also we have the community plots. So the community plots are actually for the community to pick from. So we will be, as community garden members or participants, going to go ahead and weed and set up a program to maintain those community areas for people to bring their grandkids or maybe the preschool, ah, organizations to bring the kids over so they can actually pick. We actually are, I just, set up yesterday. I’m so excited about this. We have a lady who is, also Sandy is her name She has agreed to help start going ahead and setting up a scavenger hunt for the kids that we hope to have ready by time school sets in for next year. And, she’s working with the new, senior community center that is set up in town. And, they are, going to have, some of the senior members paint rocks and things that are meant for the scavenger hunt. So I’m really excited about that. And it’s been very, hard, long road finding somebody who wanted to take that type of creative side, I guess, because that type of the brain that is a whole intricate member where you have to be good with words, you have to be good with poems, and you also have to be good with puzzles. And it takes a lot of time to set this. And so it was hard finding a member to go ahead and do that.

LM: Awesome. And that’s just another community connection on so many different levels. So very cool. how do you distinguish between the different areas at the garden?

LF: So because we still, until tomorrow, we don’t have soil into them. So I have not placed too much around hand, but I have been starting to print out, little information, pamphlets and laminate them. So they would be posted around the garden. So there will be actually little laminate areas that say, if you can, pick from this area and if you can’t, if it’s for residents or if it’s for community. And also going on with how great the town is, they’re looking to donate us a whole new community sign. And I’m crossing my fingers because I’m pushing for a proper community sign where you can have the plexiglass, where you slide it across, and community members can put their own things advertising what’s happening throughout town. But we will go ahead and also have information palettes on that community sign as well. Of what and how the garden is supposed to operate.

LM: Yeah, I mean, that makes it official. The sign is like, all right, this is the place. This is official.

LF: And a different note, we’re also working on bilingual translation because, once again, our community is not just English speaking. They are mostly Spanish as well. And if there’s anybody in the community that would like to, translate for us in a different language, I’m always welcome and open to hearing that and would love them to do it. So I just need to print out the document.

LM: Yes. I love it. I think you’ve also had so many really interesting, innovative events and ways that you’ve approached cleaning up the lot and then getting these beds planted and the different things that you’re doing on site there.

LF: We’re trying.

LM: I mean, the whole goat head contest was such a cool idea.

LF: Goat head stomp. Yes, that was, I have to say, Lehl and I, we definitely tag teamed that with that. And it was cute.

LM: It’s just such a creative idea to make it more interesting than just, like, let’s pick up this horrible, invasive, you know, thing. so where do you get those ideas? Or even, like, the thing you’re doing now with the hoop house or the different, when you’re bringing the food truck or, like, where do you get these ideas?

LF: Community. it’s all about just putting these things out there and leaving it open for the community to come back. the hoop house, specifically, Joseph came to me about that. He apparently had been part as a side member for the first garden. And he came to me and he was like, I just want to check to see how this garden is going, what your plans are. And when he confirmed that everything that we are looking to do with the garden to what he wanted, then he was like, this is what I would like to present to you. And our thing with him on the Kratky method with the hoop, hoopy houses hoop houses, is that he has built two for demonstration and seminars so the public and the community can see how it works. And he’s going to do seminars or, lessons and then and they’re completely free. everything at the garden, once again, free. And then we are to create two others for the community if they want to go ahead and have an area section in the hoop houses to go ahead and claim it as a plot per se, so they can do the same method themselves. And I’ll tell you, he showed me a lettuce that he spent 35 days and it was over a foot tall and 35 days a full head of lettuce. And we’re talking about the leafy lettuce, not the iceberg lettuce. And so it’s the healthier, it has more nutrition and it’s beautiful. He also gave me bok choy a little bit shorter than the last, but it was still about twelve inches. And so this method really does work and the way. From my understanding, I might have this off a little bit. So just leave it open for error. I’m not the teacher here, so.

LM: People will just have to come to the seminar.

LF: Yes.

LM: And fact check you.

LF: but so he, right? he says, I believe it’s he has bins that he fills with water and has the floating device with the seed and the plant on it. And the water gets switched out once every two weeks and compost heat gets added into it. And that’s all. No pipes, no, electric needed. You just need to check in and maintenance your plants here and there. And anything from, from the ground with all the weeding and all that is very lax compared to that. So, he offered that himself. And I feel ah, so blessed because also on, beautification, because appeal of course, is a big part of about a community garden. And he has been so helpful in ideas about how making it aesthetically gorgeous and attractive from the outside, but also practical. And he also recently accumulated us two water tanks that we’re going to start going ahead and use. That way, when the soil goes in, our irrigation, line or drip lines can go ahead and be coming from the tanks instead of having to have someone out there every day and lift the line. For the water.

LM: Makes sense. So you fill up the tank once and then that takes care of itself for a while.

LF: I think with the two tanks, what we’re planning, that hopefully we can go ahead and have it so once a week they get filled.

LM: Okay. That makes a lot of sense to figure out how to make it sustainable because everybody has, you know, multiple other jobs.

LF: Absolutely. Ah, Lehl and I are examples of that.

LM: Exactly, right? And if you want to do it well and make sure it is sustainable and it will keep going. Yeah, it’s great to think about those things and think about how is this going to be something you can keep up with and other people can keep up with?

LF: and we have a couple other people that have come in the community. What you said about food trucks. So, recently I also run the pali swap in town. I had the last pali swap before the fall, at the garden. And loaded lemonade pony lemonade. I always forget which word comes in front of the other, but they’re amazing and so wonderful. And they asked, ah, hey, could we go ahead and do a pop up there? And I was like, absolutely. Because as long as we don’t have alcohol at the garden and don’t have it past ten for noise ordinances and have less than 200 people, we are able to throw events pretty openly there. But once again, the town has okayed that. They have given, gone ahead and okayed a permit for that. That is something they are allowing us to do for the town because they want this for the community as well.

LM: how do the neighbors react? Like the surrounding nearby neighbors.

LF: so we have directly across the street, there’s, the blue house. The people are wonderful. they’ve done major improvements on the house. Beautiful. But they have, opened up, anytime we meet electric lines run, they told us, hey, this one will trip our breaker. This is where you use da da da. We have also directly across the street, Ariana, who works at La Plaza. Her and her husband Augusta and the kids come over and help all the time. She, by the way, I just love her. She’s love and light. If you haven’t met her, you need to. Well, I hope that you make it to one of the community garden events and meet her, because I think her personality, that you would really enjoy it. She just light. She also is a, she’s a young book author, she has already agreed, once we get set up to do book readings at the garden. there’s all these little tiny, intricate ways that we have asked and looked for the community and said, hey, is this something you’d be interested in? And so we have a lot of events that we’re planning for. It’s just getting the property ready for it, because the big thing is we can’t do kid events until the property is ready for kids. We’ve been doing some music events where people are bringing kids, but it’s more integrated right now to bring the adults because just picking up debris and there’s a lot of, We have pallets that are separated because the pallets, even though they look like they’re piling up, they’re. Even the small little pieces can be reused for something. And as soon as we get the soil in, hopefully we’ll be able to get a lot of that out there, because then we’ll know where we are and what resources we need at this point.

LM: Just knowing that you don’t, you don’t have well, tomorrow you’ll probably have a better idea.

LF: Yes. Tomorrow is a big day.

LM: After if tomorrow goes well. Tomorrow goes really well. Yes. How do you, or when do you think you’re like, is this a, one year, two year? Like, what’s your outlook for when you feel like things are gonna be up and running fully?

LF: Oh, Lisa, you know me already. I plan for, like, long term. It’s meant to be there for 20 years in the future. Now being practical, I think that currently, with our motivation that we have, it would probably be anywhere from 4 to 5 years. and that’s just seeing how we are in trickling through the community. That’s where we’re doing podcasts like this and other information things. And today was the first time that we started getting our flyers up woo. so having those type of things get out into the community is going to make it more longstanding. And when more participants that we get involved and more people that want to step up and take responsibility, the more longstanding it can be. I really want this to be something that’s around in 10, 20 years, and that’s just being practical, that everything comes to an end at some point in time. But we have here in town, our, high school. they’re creating internships for their high school students. And our. My intention is to have it so we have an internship with them also in the future. we. I think Crystal Green is her name. Very lovely lady. And she and I discussed where we could possibly have it. So there’s different science programs in the high school, and they have one program is that they have to create a whole, set, for summer or a whole growing plan for, I believe it’s one set of, sessions. So I guess summer session would make sense. So if we work with them, and they already have greenhouses, so we work with them to do our starter plants. And it would be a great cross promotion to keep this going long term. And cross promotion is how you keep everything going. Working with the businesses, working with the different organizations, the senior programs, the schools, the preschoolers, and also homeschoolers are a big, intricate part in our community here, which is another reason why I’m excited about that scavenger hunt for the kids, because the homeschoolers I spoke to, probably about seven different ones before Lehl and I got approval on this garden. And they were like, we need it. We need something to take our kids to. And if you give us something like this, we will be there. So that’s why it’s such a big thing for me to be like, we are getting there.

LM: Absolutely. So what is the, what’s the number one thing you need right now?

LF: So the 19th. Talking about so 19th. Like I said, our meeting of the minds drip talk from 09:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. is the big thing that will set about where our needs list are. I do have a, big thing about shade cloth is in important right now, but I feel assessing our needs after the 19th is the most important because figuring out if we need little drip line heads or more tubing, once again, this is not my area, so I’m not using their appropriate names. But like that, that is where I feel that the community, when we have this meeting, the community will go ahead and tell me what we need and I will resource it at that point. Besides that, shade, cloth is very, very important because we have the hoop houses and if we want to have some shade for people to go over the summer, also, we, have on our community boxes. Currently we have two we’re going to build more in the future. We have two community boxes for people to pick from. And there is where I have an old greenhouse layout. The frame is put on and I want to use it so we can work on our shade. how one side of your house seems to have like two to three hours just shade, and the other is six to nine. So using that information, I want to use as an educational tool of how to grow plants accordingly in our town here, depending on how your house is set up or your apartment. And we need shade cloth for that as well. So that is currently one of the most important things before our drip line talk. But I don’t want to say that is the important thing until after our drip line talk because I feel getting water run is good.

LM: that’s pretty important yeah, yeah, yeah. That makes sense. so if people want to get involved and say they want to get involved to volunteer their time and efforts just in building the garden, or they want to volunteer and donate materials or, you know, get a plot, how do they, what’s the process like, how do people get in touch?

LF: Currently has been Facebook. and unfortunately, at this main point, until we get the better bulletin board at the community garden, Facebook is the best thing. And besides that, I will go ahead and put my number on the bulletin board at the garden and say, text or email this. but the Facebook, we have the palisade community garden page. And if you contact us through that, I am always on it at least multiple times a day, and someone sends me a message, I am instantly usually there within less than a 24 hour period. We are pretty openly accepting. But we do put some limitations on, like, we can’t have, compost bins that can’t be rotated. That was a recent find. We originally weren’t even thinking compost at all, but we did find out if it’s one of those rolling bins that can be allowed. And, one person is definitely donating. Another, said that they will donate, and it’s confirmation on that. But the biggest thing is, if you show up to our events, like talking with Lehl or I, we will go ahead and either open our arms right then or schedule a date to meet you guys and accept the goods at that certain point in time if it’s something that needs to go in the shed and be locked up.

LM: So, reaching out right now, Palisade Community Garden Facebook page, is the best way to get connected and stay, involved with everything that’s happening.

LF: if you’re just say if you’re bored for a weekend or you don’t have, like, maybe once a month, you like to contribute in some way. It doesn’t have to be every day, but, contact us. Maybe we can say, like, hey, like, we can go ahead and have you weed for an hour or turn on our garden. And those type of things are so helpful. What seems small is not small. It is huge in the long run. And all it takes is a little bit from every community member to make this community garden last.

LM: I love it. It’s just such a cool thing that you’re doing, and I’m really glad that you and Lehl are leading this, and it seems like you have all of the best groundwork in place to make it happen.

LF: Hoping, crossing fingers.

LM: Yeah. It’s a huge effort, and I’m really impressed with everything that you’re working on and, how much work it is and how you’re making time for it and making it happen.

LF: Yeah. I’ll tell you, it’s got so many ups and it’s got so many downs, and our motivation, our community and our heart is what keeps us going. I personally, living out east until last few years, as I mentioned, I tried this multiple times out east, and trying to get a good standing community is the hardest point. And the businesses, the people. Well, the people are the businesses. You know, they’re this heart in this town is the most amazing thing ever. Well, you know, you moved here, too.

LM: Yeah, exactly. I know. I felt it, too. I’m like this. It’s really special, so I feel like it. If it’s gonna succeed, you’re gonna make it happen.

LF: Crossing fingers. Raise the roof. Preach it.

LM: Exactly. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today. I really appreciate it.

LF: Thank you. I’m so glad that we can make this work.

LM: Me, too.

LM: If you’re interested in learning more about the Palisade Community Garden, located at 470 west fourth Street in Palisade, search for the Palisade Community Garden facebook page. There you’ll find information about upcoming events, volunteer work days, plot rentals, and more.

Our theme music is Riverbend by Geoff Roper.

Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.

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