Tenant Spotlight: Community Gardens of Tucson

Community Gardens of Tucson is a network of 20 gardens across the City that provides irrigated plots, support on how to successfully garden in the desert, the tools, soil, mulch, seeds and equipment necessary to grow fresh and healthy produce for the table. They partner with neighborhoods, schools, local government and organizations working towards their vision of creating a stronger, healthier, more vibrant Tucson.

As a small, largely volunteer run organization it is has been very positive being part of the Community Foundation Campus as it helps us to have access to infrastructure (mail, meeting space) that would otherwise be difficult to secure. It also helps us connect to and collaborate with a larger network of nonprofits, consultants and funders in Tucson.

During the pandemic there was a surge in interest in gardening, but CGT also struggled internally with how to get more people involved safely. They implemented safety protocols such as mask use, social distancing, discontinuing large volunteer workdays and installing hand washing stations and hand sanitizer in the gardens. With these practices in place, gardens became an incredibly important refuge for people to get out of the house, grow food, relax and unwind from the stress of quarantine or job loss.

CGT in collaboration with the UA School of Geography, conducted interviews with gardeners about the impacts of COVID-19. As one gardener stated, “The garden has been the place we run to to escape isolation. It helped me [when my hours were cut] and my wife because she lost her job.”

For 30 years, Community Gardens of Tucson has remained dedicated to providing growing space and education for desert appropriate gardening. CGT was founded by George Brookbank, visionary University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Agent, who saw the need to develop and promote gardening best practices for our challenging growing climate. CGT has grown, evolved and continues to be motivated by the desire to create a space for sharing knowledge, culture, and traditions between generations of gardeners. Community gardens contribute directly to the health and vibrancy of our community by creating green spaces that nourish people, plants and pollinators.

Learn more about Community Gardens of Tucson or find a garden near you by visiting their website here.