Saturday, January 20, 2018

Phil Adams and Mallory Ryan, founders of the Rosebud Garden Court, in the community garden at Hawkins Park in Absarokee.

A growing project in Absarokee

An abandoned tennis court in Absarokee has found new life as a community garden, thanks to the grassroots efforts of locals Phil Adams and Mallory Ryan.
“I don’t know of any community gardens here in the past,” Adams said. “This idea grew out of the deer infestation that has kept down home gardens.”
The tall chain-link fence that once prevented tennis balls from flying into nearby Rosebud Creek now keep Absarokee’s urban deer from preying on vegetables and flowers.
Adams said he was once involved in a community garden in Columbus. When he and Ryan approached the Beartooth Park and Recreation District board in January about starting a community garden in Absarokee, they were looking at land out by the Circle-T softball fields.
The board told Adams and Ryan they could use the fencing at the Hawkins Park tennis court for their new garden. But the board was also looking at an expensive demolition project to remove the tennis court paving, which had been severely damaged by tree roots.
Moving the garden idea to Hawkins Park solved both problems and led to the creation of Rosebud Garden Court. The high school FFA program used salvaged redwood decking to create nine 13-foot long planting beds, half of which are raised atop pallets donated by Beartooth Lumber & Hardware and lined with repurposed metal roofing.
“We tried putting a few on the ground as an experiment,” Adams said. “Raised beds are good for elderly and handicapped people.”
Adams and Ryan make topsoil for each planter by mixing clay loam from a nearby fish pond with sawdust-manure from Anipro Arena donated by Rick Young and regular yard compost. The plan is to compost this season’s plants after harvest and later establish a compost bin in the tennis court area.
“You have to be careful about using grass clippings because you don’t want pesticides or other chemicals in your vegetable garden,” Adams said. “Leaves are good – we’ll be gathering a lot this fall.”
Adams and Ryan recently purchased enough cedar lumber to build 10 more planting beds using donated money. The long-range plan calls for 50 planters or buckets, a storage shed, a greenhouse and fruit trees planted in holes through the paving along the west side of the tennis court.
Absarokee has a longer growing season than Fishtail and Nye, Adams said, and the greenhouse will lengthen the growing season even more for sensitive plants like tomatoes.
“Rosebud Garden Court is open for people who live outside of Absarokee,” Adams noted.
One of the planters was tended by kids from the Star Bright Daycare. The bed was sponsored by Kruizin’ 4 Seniors with the harvested produce going to the Absarokee Senior Center. Much of the other harvested produce this year will also end up at the senior center.
“Mothers like to come down here with their small children, set them loose on their trikes while they water or tend their garden, knowing their kids are safe inside this fence,” Adams said.
Adams also credited Hawkins Park caretaker Jill Tower.
“She made the sign for us,” he said.
The brand new community garden project had a late start this year, so Adams and Ryan are encouraging people to contact them about renting a plot next year.
To learn more about Rosebud Garden Court, call Adams at 321-4244 or Ryan at 321-1853. Donations may be sent to Rosebud Garden Court, P.O. Box 63, Absarokee MT 59001.