Greenlee Gardens – Clifton Site

It may be called Greenlee Gardens – Clifton Site, but over the last decade we have gardened with residents from all parts of the county.  On Saturday, April 13th,garden members welcomed gardeners, old and new, to look over the garden, take home some free plants, learn about identifying which weeds need to be removed most urgently, and view the operating, and soon to be stocked, aquaculture fish and growing chambers. It was a beautiful day as the attached photos demonstrate.  Having our “roots” in education, the garden had its beginnings at Clifton Schools in 2011 serving as an outdoor botanical educational classroom. The garden moved to its current location across from Freeport-McMoRan’s guest house on Park Avenue in 2014.  

Pictured above: Back Row: Steve Ahmann, Ms. and Mr. Burton Curtis and family; Front Row: Susan Breen; James Davis; Robert Cronister

The thirty plus gardens that comprise the enterprise area available to anyone in the county that wants to come and join in the fun.  The Town of Clifton leases the land to the non-profit so that local residents can have a source of fresh, healthy, affordable food.  Gardeners are asked to participate once a month in regularly scheduled clean-up days, and to participate in group meetings to share ideas and appreciate gardening efforts.  There never has been, nor is there currently,any cost to garden.  Grants and contributions have sustained the operation since the days the garden was a“spin-off” of the Greenlee County Tourism Council. The garden is now a stand-alone 501(c)3 non-profit entity. 

Do you remember what a real tomato tastes like?  It is nothing like the beautiful, but tasteless, renditions currently stocking the regions supermarkets.  If you have attempted to grow them yourself at most of the places in the county, you know that rocky, poor soil, huge daily temperature swings, wind, very little rain, hungry insects and other critters make it a huge challenge. Members of the community garden make every effort to enable you to succeed.  Each garden already has drip irrigation that can be modified to serve your particular plants needs.  Consequently, even if you are on vacation out of the area, your green-growies will still be watered.  Yes, there are a few rocks in the garden, but it is San Francisco River bottom soil that was tested for healthfulness by the State of Arizona Department of Health. Plants love it.  Each family has their own garden and neighbors respect it as such.  Yes, you can agree to share if you choose,but it is your choice.  Speaking of sharing, there are currently over twenty producing fruit (peaches, pears,apples, etc.) and nut (pecan and pistachio) trees scattered throughout the garden that are all shared between participating gardeners. 

I mentioned that the garden began as an educational endeavor at Clifton Schools.  We still pride ourselves on being available to help our members to succeed.  We are experts at identifying “good” and“not-so-good” plants; insects and other critter damage; nutrient imbalances;advise on timings of planting, fertilizing, and harvesting; whatever your question or issue, we can generally help you find a solution.  Other important aspects: We have our own composting operation for participants to share, a children’s garden area so young ones can be busy constructively while you tend your garden, all the tools you need to do whatever job you are undertaking, and coming now – the “fishing hole” where you will be able to catch catfish (and maybe tilapia) to go along with those most excellent tomatoes and other super-charged veggies. 

Finally, my phone number is on the outside fence in the center of the garden so you can always make an appointment for advice, report a water leak, or other emergency.  If you would like to know more, phone 928 865-2085 and I will be pleased to show you around. 

by Steve Ahmann