|Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier|
David Grounds, president and CEO of Dorn Homes, and homeowner Laura Sutton pose in the Quailwood community garden in Prescott Valley.
Special to the Tribune
Like other subdivisions in the quad-city area, Quailwood has a swimming pool, tennis courts and other amenities.
Quaiwood's new developer, Dorn Homes, added another draw a year ago: a community garden - dubbed a "community farm" - below the clubhouse.
Dorn's president and chief executive officer, David Grounds, said he traveled around the state looking for subdivisions with community gardens. He sought out the consultant for a garden in a Gilbert subdivision that promotes urban farming, and imported enriched soil for a half-acre site that was home to weeds.
He said he brought the idea to homeowners, and Laura Sutton, who serves on two homeowners' association boards, supported it.
"It fits in with the whole lifestyle here," Grounds said.
Dorn invested more than $50,000 in soils, grading, fencing, an irrigation system, wiring and a shed that houses tools, Grounds said. The garden has 15 plots.
Grounds and the homeowners in the 987-lot subdivision off Bradshaw Mountain Road and Highway 69 have already seen the fruits - and vegetables - of their labors.
Homeowners planted their first crops a year ago, and harvested them this past fall, said Sutton, who chairs the community farm. About 20 families planted a variety of crops in April.
The families planted strawberries, tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, onions, beans and other crops. Homeowners make a commitment for a year, and are bound by a contract to follow organic farming practices, Sutton said. Sutton, a resident for three and a half years, said she does not grow anything at the farm because she started a garden in her yard before the community garden opened.
Participants pay $25 a year to cover costs for watering. Wire mesh underneath the plants keeps out gophers.
The homeowners also took classes on site from Sharla Mortimer, co-owner with husband Gary of Mortimer Family Farms, Grounds said. She supplied seeds and the names of suppliers.
The presence of the community garden means homeowners do not have to travel 6.5 miles to the Prescott Valley Community Garden off Florentine and Lake Valley roads.
"I wish every subdivision would create its own community garden," said Bonnie Flores, who serves on the executive committee for the PV community garden. She would be happy to help in such an endeavor, she added.
The PV garden, which opened in early 2011, has 28 rental plots, and every renter must contribute 20 hours during the season when they are renting, Flores said.
The Yavapai County Planning and Zoning Commission supports a proposal to allow a person to establish a community garden on a vacant lot if he or she owns the property or has permission from the landowner. The proposal advances to the county supervisors July 1.
"It would not really be a permit," said Steve Mauk, county community development director. "It would be a matter of right."
Meanwhile, Quailwood has three plots reserved for new homeowners, Sutton said.
"We want them to become part of the existing community and get to know their neighbors," she said.