Oasis Community Garden prepares to build learning center

The Oasis Community Garden on Monroe Boulevard is a 1.7-acre garden featuring 38 agricultural plots where community members can grow their own fruits and vegetables. The Junior League of Ogden started the garden and is now developing plans for a pavilion in the garden to act as a learning center.

“It is a safe place for kids to play and for people to hang out and grown your own produce,” said Rebecca Macias, who graduated from Weber State University in 2002 and is now the president of the Junior League of Ogden.

(Source: Rebecca Macias) An artistic rendering of the learning pavilion at Oasis Community Garden. The Junior League is planning a groundbreaking for the pavilion at the end of June.
(Source: Rebecca Macias) An artistic rendering of the learning pavilion at Oasis Community Garden. The Junior League is planning a groundbreaking for the pavilion at the end of June.

The mission of the Association of Junior Leagues International is to promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women, and improve communities through effective action and leadership. The main focus of the Junior League of Ogden is serving underprivileged women and children.

The Junior League of Ogden began planning for the garden in 2003. The garden became available to the community for gardening in 2010.

“The Junior League is known for projects that give back to the community, particularly to underprivileged groups,” said Sue Wilkerson, who began working with the Junior League on creating the garden in 2003. “We wanted a project that somehow started to shift the community’s attitude toward a healthier lifestyle.”

When planning for the garden began, Wilkerson found out that an Ogden family, the Stokes, were selling a plot of land on Monroe Boulevard. Wilkerson approached Susan Stokes about possibly donating some of that land to the Junior League of Ogden for the community garden. The family was able to donate half of the appraisal value to the Junior League of Ogden, and the rest was paid for through grants and community support.

“When I found out about it, I knew it would be perfect,” Wilkerson said. “It was centrally located and in a place we know would make the most difference.”

More than $200,000 has gone into improvements to the community garden in grants from the Weber County Recreation, Arts, Museums & Parks Program alone, Wilkerson said. Recently, RAMP awarded the Junior League of Ogden with an $87,000 grant to prepare to build a learning pavilion at the garden.

The grant will allow the first phase of the pavilion, the structure, to be built. Macias said classes and activities will be held at the learning pavilion, available to community members.

“In wanting to address the childhood obesity epidemic, the League strategized to create a center at the Oasis Community Garden where children and adults could gain the education, tools and resources to make healthy eating choices and live an active lifestyle,” Macias said. “The learning center will teach garden-to-plate education to adults and children.”

Macias said she hopes the education the community receives from classes at the pavilion will have long-lasting effects, particularly by starting to educate children at a young age about healthy foods.

“We want them to be equipped to be successful, and that starts with education,” Macias said.

The groundbreaking for the learning pavilion will be at the end of the month, at which point construction of the pavilion will begin. Macias said she hopes it will be finished in time for the Oasis Community Garden’s annual cook-off event, “Get Fresh.” This is an event where chefs create raw dishes out of ingredients taken from the garden and community members can come taste the food and vote for their favorites.

Macias said she hopes the learning pavilion at the garden will remove a stigma often associated with healthy eating.

“Growing and eating your own foods doesn’t have to be expensive,” she said. “I think a lot of people have this preconception that growing fresh produce will cost too much, but that just isn’t the case.”

Oasis Community Garden plots are $25 per season, Wilkerson said, and the garden has many sponsors who donate plots to people who cannot afford them.

“This year I’ve seen more people out in the garden than ever before,” Wilkerson said. “It is a great socioeconomic melting pot.”