Douglas County Conservation District (CD) and city personnel created a guidebook and toolkit for implementing and participating in the Lawrence Common Ground garden and incubator farm program. A series of stakeholder meetings were held with county and city staff to conduct an internal report and program evaluation of the Common Ground program.
An urban agriculture demonstration high tunnel and education garden were installed at the county fairgrounds. The high tunnel will be managed and maintained by the county’s Master Gardeners program.
The project team conducted a series of conservation practices workshops and a high tunnel workshop designed to help individuals with the process of permitting and erecting a high tunnel within city limits.
The project also provided participants with education opportunities through visits to other regional urban agriculture programs, attendance at the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) conference, participation at the American Planning Association conference, and presentations at the Urban Food Systems Symposium.
The toolkit has provided a blueprint and foundation for future guide updates. Management and updating of the toolkit was turned over to the Lawrence Sustainability staff. Presentations regarding the program, updates and changes will be made annually to county commissioners.
The high tunnel laid a successful foundation for an urban agriculture education garden at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. Care and maintenance of the garden and high tunnel will be the responsibility of the county Master Gardeners program and Kansas State University Research and Extension staff. Staff will use the garden for future research, field trials and food donations.
The garden has been central to the development of Master Gardeners vegetable trials in Douglas County. These trials provide data to Kansas State University (K-State) and are aggregated with information from other counties to evaluate how different varieties perform in Kansas.
In addition, the garden provided over 200 pounds of food to the local food bank, Just Food. The demonstration area has plans to expand in 2019 with the addition of several perennial fruit trees.
The K-State Extension and Douglas County Horticulture program have committed to continuing the high tunnel. Programming is being developed to use the garden as a teaching resource.