SPOKANE, Wash. – Right now a group of gardeners in Hillyard and East Central Spokane are banding together to try and save community gardens they worked so hard to build. The city of Spokane is giving the community gardens a year notice to move to a new location as they are concerned that both of them are located too close to drinking water wellheads. They can't risk contamination to the soil.
Marlene Feist with the city of Spokane said that recently the Department of Health was out doing an inspection and they noted their concern with the proximity of the gardens to the wellheads.
Feist said it does not make sense to continue at the current locations and that the city is available to help the gardens move, assist with any new material needed at a different location, and they will reimburse gardeners for any purchases that they are unable to move. "For some reason they said they didn't check with the state of Washington's rules," Gardener Cristy Gerhardt said.
"Now all of a sudden they are saying it's a danger to the wellhead. We've put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this place." "It's very difficult to find a place that has all the different requirements for a community garden," Gerhardt said. "Imagine the work of trying to get the stuff from this garden moved to a spot that is completely devoid of water, fence, anything."
Donna Fagan who also helps with the garden said the state told them as long as there is no animal compost on the site, they train and certify all the gardeners and they agree to remain totally organic, then they can stay.
The city says that they cannot police the garden to make sure that they remain organic so that is why they want the gardeners to relocate to a location that makes sense for everyone. The city and state remains set with their request for relocation within the next year. This debate is ongoing and we will follow the story in the coming weeks.