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Taylorsville Journal

Snowfall didn’t slow down patrons of popular Taylorsville Community Greenhouse

Apr 10, 2018 04:27PM ● By Tori La Rue

Flowers, fruits and vegetables thrive in the Taylorsville greenhouse until they’re planted outside. (Toni Lenning)

Our incredibly mild Salt Lake Valley temperatures may have prompted gardeners to try to get a jump on their outdoor planting season. In January and February, temperatures of 50 degrees or more were recorded 25 times, with two of those in the low 60s.

But just in time for the Taylorsville Community Greenhouse to open for the season (Feb. 24), Old Man Winter paid another visit.

“It doesn’t matter how cold it gets outside, the plants stay nice and warm in here,” volunteer Taylorsville Community Greenhouse and Garden Coordinator Toni Lenning said. “In fact, we have to start getting everything out of the greenhouse by mid-May, because temperatures can get over 120 degrees.”

That wasn’t a problem on opening day this year, as greenhouse patrons were tempted to put their vehicles into four-wheel drive as they rolled through nearly a foot of snow, behind (north of) the Taylorsville/Bennion Heritage Center (1488 West 4800 South).

“Taylorsville City received a $25,000 federal grant to build this greenhouse, in about 2007,” Lenning said of the 20-foot-by50-foot cement-floored structure, covered in polyethylene plastic sheeting (Visqueen). “It’s got a great water and heating system. People love it.”

Lenning’s volunteerism predates the greenhouse.

“When I first started, the garden was in a different location, and we had no greenhouse,” she said. “I just go where they tell me.”

Gardener Judy McMurdie has also been with Lenning that long.

“The greenhouse and garden are fun, but they also save us a lot of money,” McMurdie said. “I have freezers full of all kinds of vegetables. The food is awesome, and working in here is therapeutic. There’s a peacefulness to it.”

Community gardener Kendal Meyer agrees.

“I’m passionate about (the greenhouse),” she said. “I love the people I’ve met here. You have to come over nearly every day to water and care for your plants. But if someone is going on vacation, we cover for each other. There’s just a real serenity here.”

Lenning admits that the number of people making use of the greenhouse has shrunk in recent years, so they have room for a few more.

“We have about 15 gardeners who use the greenhouse regularly,” Lenning said. “The outside garden is busier, with about 35 people renting and using 55 plots.”

The outdoor garden plots are 6 feet by 20 feet and rent for $25. Gardeners who rent multiple plots pay $20 each. Greenhouse fees are the same but for smaller growing areas. And Lenning said a few rules are necessary.

“We’ve had children make messes — coloring on the floor, and so forth — so we don’t allow kids under age 11,” she said. “Those 11 to 16 also need adult supervision. Everything must also be grown from a seed. We don’t allow already-started plants into the greenhouse because they can bring in bugs or diseases. We keep it very sanitary.” 

The community greenhouse and garden are also only available to rent by Taylorsville residents.

Volunteers at the nearby Taylorsville Food Pantry such as Sue Lane appreciate having the community garden right around the corner.

“I love Toni,” Lane said. “During the season, she drives full carloads of fresh food over here every week — tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, squash and other things. (Lenning) dedicates a full garden plot to (the food pantry). One year she even helped one of our volunteers, every step of the way, as she learned to grow things for us over there.” 

“There’s no question we are (the food pantry’s) biggest donors of fresh food,” Lenning said.

Another pair of greenhouse gardeners who showed up to register on day one were Colt Pieper, 24, and his girlfriend, Alex Green, 23.

“I love working with my hands and growing things,” Pieper said. “One day, I’d like to buy 5 or six 6 — preferably in the Grand Staircase-Escalante area — and grow food for the homeless. I want to be self-sufficient and provide for others.”

Taylorsville residents who want to rent space in the community greenhouse or garden should call Lenning at 801-265-1328.

“This is the greatest gift the city could have ever given us,” Lenning said of her green thumb haven. “I’d love to see more people take advantage of it.” 

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