“The White Mountain Community Garden was put together by community members in the Show Low area and what they have created is incredible,” Allison Hephner said.
Hephner is the vice president of the White Mountain Community Garden.
The nonprofit was started in 2010 and uses gardening to help educate, feed and nurture the health of adults and young people in today’s society.
“The White Mountain Community Garden is a hub of opportunities,” Hephner said. “It brings together a lot of people with experience in gardening and if you walk through the area, you see that they have a lot of different things going on.”
This includes having experienced gardeners teach classes on how to plant, what kind of soil to use, canning, a method of preserving food and the list goes on.
The White Mountain Community Garden is located next to the Navajo County Health Department in Show Low.
Community members also have the chance to grow their own food in the garden’s plots and raised beds or they can join the Healthy Eating and Living Participation (HEALP) program.
“If people don’t have the time to do their own plot, they can be part of a group that helps maintain the property together,” Hephner said.
HEALP members do everything prepare, plant, water, weed and harvest the garden.
While the growing season typically runs from June until October, don’t expect to see an empty garden during the offseason.
Hephner said they grow produce in the high tunnel greenhouse that was given to them through an incentive through NRCS a few years ago.
“I want people to come out and be part of a community garden and try these things and know the culture,” Hephner said. “It’s important to educate ourselves and our children about growing food.
“It’s like drinking water and breathing air,” Hephner continued.
People who take advantage of the garden’s produce besides those who grow the food include nonprofit organizations, churches and families in need of food.
Hephner said the garden’s activities are made possible through monetary and in-kind donations.
“The more people we can teach this incredible resource to the more likely we will be able to develop a culture where we’re eating healthier and we have food stability and not a culture dependent on food,” Hephner said.
She is also trying to get a farmers market off the ground at the garden next summer where low-income families can take advantage of produce.
“We’re low-income based, so the farmers that would be selling at our market will be WIC certified and be able to accept WIC checks, EBT checks or a Cash Value Voucher (CVV),” Hephner said. “If more people knew about the gardening, less people would be hungry.
“It’s about paying it forward and helping each other out,” Hephner continued.
If interested in becoming a member of the White Mountain Community Garden or want to volunteer visit www.wmcgarden.org.
Are you a farmer looking to become an approved grower that is WIC certified? Contact Hephner for all the details on an upcoming training class at allison.hepner@navajocountyaz.