Sierra Vista Food Co-op Planning Community Garden

In its first phase of a planned expansion, the Sierra Vista Food Co-op will create a new community garden in the West End.

The natural foods grocery store has partnered with The Cochise Water Project and WaterWise for the $18,000 project to renovate the front area of the building on South Carmichael Avenue.

By early 2017, customers and residents alike, will be able to enjoy an outdoor classroom and seating space — paired with fruit trees and raised bed gardens fed by harvested rainwater.

“Our plan is to create this community space where we can grow food and have demos,” said general manager John Glennon. “It will be a garden classroom with an urban design.”

In the 1960’s, the building was originally a post office. The food co-op remodeled half of the 6,000 square feet property following a grassroots effort to raise enough funds for a fully functioning grocery store.

The store is owned by its members, although anyone can shop there, and opened its doors in April 2011.

As it moves into its sixth successful year of business, the store wants to build on its mission to create a sustainable environment in Sierra Vista.

Last year, with the help of a grant from The Cochise Water Project, it installed a rainwater-harvesting tank at the rear of the building, which flushes the toilets.

This new project will see the front lawn and hedges removed and replaced with an environmentally friendly combination of permeable pavers, artificial turf, and decomposed granite.

“We’ll also put in some walls for the raised beds and add some bistro tables and chairs,” Glennon said. “We want this to be an area where people can come and hang out. We also want to have classes and grow fruit trees. It’s going to be pretty cool.”

The $18,000 project will also include a new rainwater-harvesting tank to feed the landscaping, and the work is being partly paid for with grants totaling $7,000 from The Cochise Water Project and the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension’s WaterWise Program.

The work will be carried out by local contractors, including Southwest Desert Images, R. L. Workman Homes and Oasis Rainwater Harvesting.

“We think this is an excellent example of how local businesses can help to save water and keep more water from leaving the aquifer,” said Tim Cervantes, executive director of The Cochise Water Project. “We were very happy to be able to help the co-op with its mission of sustainability and we can’t wait to see the results.”

The food co-op has always had plans to expand its services, and is currently researching the possibility of moving into the other half of its current location.

“We see this project as the first step in that process. This is about putting down roots in the West End and continuing to beautify our building,” Glennon said.

“This will be a really positive thing for the community and plays into that education element that is so important to the co-op. This is what co-ops do. We’re not just about driving revenue, we’re about taking an holistic approach to food and wellbeing.”

Image: Sierra Vista Food Co-op grocery clerk Anthony Dangelo works in the store’s product storage area last week. The facility is getting ready to expand with a new community garden in early 2017. – by [email protected]

Sierra Vista Herald-Dec 26, 2016 – by Amanda Baillie Dec 26, 2016

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