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CommuniTea Garden creates peaceful space for residents, visitors Read more: Moab Times-Independent - CommuniTea Garden creates peaceful space for residents visitors

June 09, 2016
by Molly Marcallo, Moab Times-Independent

Using permaculture principles and water-wise design, a group of local citizens are busy transforming a one-tenth-acre lot on the corner of 100 West and Walnut Lane from a patch of dirt to a vibrant community space. Project coordinators hope the space, called the “CommuniTea Garden,” will host future arts and educational events, while maintaining a slice of “old Moab” as planned development transforms the 100 West corridor.

“It seems like Moab is turning into a bunch of three-story buildings with underground parking,” said the site’s property owner, Jay Nethercott. “I remember Moab in the ‘80s when it was a sleepy little town. I wanted to make sure there’s a place in downtown Moab that’s not a building, where people can sit down and collect their wits.”

Nethercott said he was looking for something “decent” to do with his property, so he reached out to local permaculture designers Claire Core and Jeffrey Adams last year.

After taking a full year to observe the property and host idea-building workshops, the group developed the idea for the CommuniTea Garden project to provide a community space and regenerative permaculture garden that may even, eventually, offer sun tea on tap to those who visit.

“We know that there’s going to be lots of development and changes, so [the garden] is helping continue having spaces for both the citizens of Moab and the guests to come to a place that’s healthy and interesting and beautiful,” Core said.

A permaculture system of swales and rocks mimicking a sinuous stream will provide water for the garden’s fruit trees and native plants. Core said storm water will flow through a curb-cut into a feature called a “Zuni bowl,” which will then separate the pollutants from the fresh water before spreading the moisture to the rest of the garden.

“It’s our sediment basin, so any pollutants from the street get trapped right here and don’t flow all the way through the garden,” Core said. “... [The garden] is designed in a way so there’s different paths. Water goes through one section, and once it fills up it will go into these little offshoots or tide pools.”

And as water flows, Core said, so will people.

“A lot of people like to cut through [the space] from the residential neighborhood, going to the school and the parks,” Core said. “So we designed it in a way that would benefit the people who walk through here.”

Adams said passionate volunteers are currently helping make the garden a reality, while learning a bit about permaculture design in the process.

“The garden is being implemented through volunteer efforts, providing an opportunity for community members to learn about the techniques of permaculture and also have a sense of ownership in the project through their direct involvement,” Adams said. “It has been really amazing to have so many people passing by stop to help or express interest and gratitude for this space being created.”

Nethercott said he hopes that in addition to being a “lovely sunny lot” for people to gather, the CommuniTea Garden will continue demonstrating sustainable land management for the community.

“I’m an old man but the rest of you have a strange world coming up with global warming, and a different way of thinking has to come about,” he said. “We’ve got to start somewhere, if everyone that could do something did do something about it we’d be better off.”

Core called the CommuniTea Garden a collaboration between generations, as the project’s coordinators — all of various ages — have all connected over a shared passion for sustainability.

“To have [Nethercott] recognize the work that young people are doing and trust in us to give us this big opportunity has been amazing,” Core said. “And it’s something that we couldn’t have done without him.”

Once the project is completed, Nethercott plans to gift the CommuniTea Garden to a nonprofit group so it will remain a space for the community.

“There wasn’t a profit motive involved,” Nethercott said. “Moab’s been good to me over the years and I wanted to give back.”

Core is encouraging community members to stop by and ask about the garden when they’re in the neighborhood.

“People that live in the neighborhood will stop and wave and ask what’s going on. Even the teenage boys will say ‘whoa that’s cool’ when we say there’s going to be a garden here,” Core said. “We want people to know that this place exists, that it’s in process and people can feel open to talk to us while we’re here.”

For more information about the space or to volunteer, visit the Facebook page: The CommuniTea Garden.

Read more: Moab Times-Independent - CommuniTea Garden creates peaceful space for residents visitors

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