There weren't many amenities when I moved into my Denver neighborhood in 1999. There was one shoppette with a convenience store, a liquor store and a sports bar.
I was attracted to this area because of the slow pace, the herd of cattle grazing in a nearby field and an incredible view of the mountains along the Front Range.
Even though I hoped this area wouldn't change, Green Valley Ranch was on the verge of explosive growth. Over the last 13 years I've watched the population triple, and shopping centers and schools spring up from the empty landscape.
While my beautiful mountain view is still there, I have to look a little harder to see it.
One of the positive changes resulting from the growth was the transformation of a massive residential lot into a beautiful community garden in 2009.
Unlike many of the metro area's community gardens that are part of the Denver Urban Gardens' network, this vegetable garden is subsidized by the Green Valley Ranch Metropolitan District. So it has its own rules for planting dates and managing pests, and a requirement for watering by drip irrigation or handheld hose.
In true community garden fashion, gardeners here also are asked to take on general maintenance tasks.
Many of the large (24 x 24-foot) garden plots are prepared for early spring planting as soon as the soil is ready to be worked. Some gardeners start their seasons by planting spinach, lettuce and onions.
In a few short months the beds overflow with summer squash, tomatoes, corn, beans, peppers and other garden favorites. Gardeners donate some of the fresh produce to a local food pantry as part of the Plant a Row for the Hungry effort. Other bounty will highlight the annual end-of-season harvest party.
Do you garden as part of a community? What's your favorite part of that experience?