Located along the Jordan River in Rose Park next door to the Day Riverside Library at 1575 West 1000 North, TreeUtah’s EcoGarden is a community resource that demonstrates how we can utilize trees in urban landscapes and gardening, which not only provides food but also benefits our social and natural environments.
Projects for volunteers in the EcoGarden include watering, weeding, mulching, composting, maintaining the guilds, and picking up trash. If you are interested in being part of the EcoGarden community, please contact us.
We also schedule EcoGarden workdays that are open to the public. These opportunities will be posted on our events calendar.
The EcoGarden is a permaculture demonstration space, situated on the grounds of the Day-Riverside Library in the Rose Park neighborhood of Salt Lake City. It fills the space between the library itself and the Jordan River, providing an inviting link between the building and the riverside trails that connect the surrounding community.
This ever-evolving EcoGarden was first laid out in 2005, under the direction of the late Toby Hemenway, renowned permaculture expert and author, and Vaughn Lovejoy, former TreeUtah director. They first considered putting it at Bend in the River Park along the Provo-Jordan River Parkway Trail, however, the mercury and lead in the land at this location made it too toxic to grow anything edible. After some more searching, they found the plot by the Day-Riverside library and it was perfect. Since then, it has been sustained by dedicated volunteers, neighbors, and TreeUtah staff.
The land the garden sits on was originally an overflow retention basin for the Jordan River, but is now home to 14 guilds (or smaller plant communities), each centered around a fruit or nut tree. Around each tree is a mix of shrubs, flowers, grasses, herbs, and native plants that complement one another through their unique characteristics. Some fix nitrogen in the soil, some attract pollinators, and others discourage pests. The guiding principle of permaculture is to cultivate food, medicine, and other useful plants in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem. Traditional farming techniques prioritize annual plants and require a continual input of nutrients, pesticides, and new plants. Permaculture relies on a thoughtful mix of perennials to create a closed, self-regulating, and sustainable system.
Additionally, the guilds are designed to maximize water retention by slowing evaporation and runoff using dugout swales. Swales are ditches dug along the contour of the land; as water runs downward, it is caught on the formation and moisture is more effectively contained. Many of the plants are also drought-resistant, meaning the garden can survive (and even thrive) with minimal watering and go long periods without any surface water. Further helping us save water is the installed drip system that delivers water directly to the plants' roots.
The EcoGarden also serves as a community gathering space. The area is not fenced off from the neighborhood, making it a publicly-accessible, inviting space with benches, picnic tables, and a shade structure covered with grapevines. We encourage residents of the neighborhood to utilize the space for gatherings, quiet contemplation, and as a source of food.
On occasion, the Day-Riverside Library brings children into the garden for story time and nearby elementary schools bring students for outdoor lunches.
In addition to volunteer workdays, TreeUtah also holds regular workshops on topics ranging from tree pruning, to mason bees, to uses of medicinal herbs. A healthy ecosystem includes the people who live in it - join us in our work in creating sustainable communities.