Have you driven by the intersection of Central Avenue and Indian School Road and wondered what is behind the art hanging on the fence? There is a new community venture sponsored by Mayor Greg Stanton and Keep Phoenix Beautiful that has brought public, private businesses and government agencies together as partners to show neighborhoods ways they can turn blighted vacant lots into something useable and productive.
The site of the old Phoenix Indian School has been vacant for more than 20 years. Barron Collier Companies has leased the land to Phoenix for a 3 – 5 year demonstration lot. More than 100 small communty garden plots are available for Phoenix residents to plant vegetables, flowers or desert plants. The 4′ x 8′ and 8′ x 8′ raised beds are leased out for 6 months and renewable, providing the plots have been properly maintained.
Farming is also happening at PHX Renews. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) New Roots program has a 2-acre farm which helps refugees adapt their homeland crops to our Arizona soil and sun. Three crops have been planted and harvested in the last 12 months. You may have bought some of their vegetables and legumes at the Downtown Farmer’s Market. The U of A Cooperative Extension has an experimental farm testing cover crops for dust control. Some of the crops have included melons, sweet peas and a leafy plant that can be substituted for lettuce or spinach.
There are Xeriscape demonstration areas showcasing some of the beautiful plants that grow in our desert. More than 60 volunteers turned out on Activation Day, September 21st, to plant about 150 desert adapted plants. Some of the plants are those the ancient people here in valley used. Brophy College Prepatory is using them as a ‘laboratory’ to measure water use and growth patterns. Xavier College Prepatory and Central High School students are creating sculpture and art work, including an interactive sundial.
Come back soon to learn about other displays, activities and gardens the many partners will be installing at PHX Renews. It is going to be a great place to visit for children and adults.