Dunbar/Spring Community Garden Update Mid-December 2013

By Brad Lancaster

Due to abuse of water access and leaks in the 15-year old irrigation line the Dunbar/Spring garden (and the playground area) were wasting vast amounts of water resulting in months of excessively high bills.

The bleeding was finally stopped at a volunteer work party in late July/early August (with materials funded by the Ironwood Tree Experience) ripped out all the old irrigation in the garden, disconnecting all garden plots from the water system. New irrigation lines were then installed only to all the trees and shrubs east of the ramada.

Note that new water lines still need to be installed in the mini-nature park west of the ramada as the trees and shrubs there are now water stressed without the irrigation they grew up on.

At tonight’s D/S Neighborhood meeting (Dec. 16, 2013) it was proposed that a community work party at the garden be scheduled for March 8, 2014 to finish the new irrigation line installation. Work party could begin at 8am. Next time such leaks and abuse need to be addressed much sooner.

The delayed response basically bankrupted the garden as its account is now zero with debt still owed to the Dunbar Coalition.

The Dunbar Coalition paid the bills, but we must pay off the debt we owe them.

Below are the unpaid 2013 Dunbar Coalition / Dunbar/Spring Community Garden irrigation water bills.

The number in parenthesis is the full bill, the number to the right is what the garden owes after subtracting the $50 the Dunbar Coalition paid.Note that the Dunbar Coalition always pays the first $50 of the water bill. The garden must pay what exceeds that $50

  • April ($222.10) $172.10
  • May ($128.54) $78.54
  • June ($274.77) $224.77
  • July ($169.86) $119.86
  • Aug ($122.20) $72.20
  • Sept ($56.32) $6.32
  • Oct ($32.37) none
  • Nov ($32.37) none

Total owed by garden on 12-3-13: $673.79


  • $323.79 donation from Desert Harvesters was paid to Dunbar Coalition on 12-4-14
  • $100 payment from Terry Pawlowski was paid to Dunbar Coalition on 12-4-14
  • $ 90 payment reported paid after Dec. 4th payment at the D/SNA meeting 12-16-13.

So, as of the evening of 12-16-13 $190 remains to be paid to eliminate the debt of the Dunbar/Spring garden.

My two cents are we (ultimately the garden and gardeners, secondly the neighborhood) must pay off this debt as soon as possible. I feel the debt needs to be paid off before any new water needs/projects are planned. And any future garden or other use of the space must have in place a clear plan for consistent, long term maintenance/care/management and a mechanism to promptly pay all water bills and other expenses.

I personally have not been directly involved, nor gardened in the community garden for a number of years, but stepped up to help other neighborhood volunteers when I learned of how bad the leaks, abuse, and debt were.


That is up to all of us in the Dunbar/Spring neighborhood. Garden space could return, native perennial food-bearing vegetation could be planted, play boulders could be installed, a combination, or something wholly different. A visioning/planning process could be organized. Though I feel this must be done in a way to ensure anything planned and implemented will be well cared for, used, and maintained.


Due to past vandalism, other abusive behavior, and problems in the garden and playground I had signs made for the garden and playground as approved by the neighborhood association making clear what actions can be considered trespassing for which the police can be called. (The police said they need such signs in place in order to respond to offenders.) The signs were installed late November 2013 under the garden and playground ramadas, and at the east entrance to the playground and the south-facing side of the garden bulletin board.

I’ve since noticed a big improvement in the garden. This is also due to the big clean up preceeding the mesquite fiesta. The Holy Family church requesting that people utilizing their free meal service not abuse the garden space, and neighbors such as Vince Pawlowski monitoring the garden space.


Pigeons have taken up nightly roost under the garden ramada roof resulting in a large amount of pidgeon manure on the bench and ramada.

Neighbor Ezra Roati is willing to install some hardware cloth to deter the roosting, and would be greatful for some help. This could happen at the March 8 workparty or over the holidays.


Finally, thanks to all those who created and maintained the community garden for so many years—it was and still is a very special place due to your efforts. Our community is what we make it and how we live.

In addition, thanks to all who came together to put on and participate in a whole series of incredible events at the garden and throughout the neighborhood on Nov. 24, 2013 during the Mesquite Fiesta, PorchFest, neighborhood walking tour & Food Swap! I've never seen so many happy people in the neighborhood all at once. Amazing!

For more on thanks for the day see: http://www.desertharvesters.org/our-big- thank-you-page/