Volunteers plant first edible vegetation garden in Fairview Park

Published: May. 20, 2017 at 3:58 PM AKDT
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For some Alaskans living in Fairview there’s one motto, “this is the neighborhood where people make the difference,” that’s according to Fairview Community Council President, Harry Need.

If Saturday morning was any indicator of how much impact people can have on an area, Need may be onto something.

“We’re just trying to make it better for the community so everybody feels safe and healthy here,” Volunteer, Sonny Peterson said.

Dozens of volunteers, community leaders, and neighbors filled the Fairview Park for a “fix-it” event.

“They wanted to you know, beautify our park for the community. I thought it was a great idea,” Charline Bonner said.

Bonner has lived in Fairview for decades in a brightly colored pinkish-purple home directly across from the park.

The beautification project, which included painting, cleaning, planting and even creating art work has been several years in the making.

“This park has been periodically invested in over time. The last time we really saw significant investment was about 2010. That’s when we put in the playground,” Need said.

According to the Anchorage municipality, a 2011 report card of the park noted people felt unsafe in the area and had concerns about graffiti and drugs.

Need said the community council made the park a priority for capital improvements.

Now,six years later the park is actually leading the way in a pilot program with an edible vegetation garden planted by volunteers Saturday.

Need said in a few years, he hopes Alaskans can look back at the garden and say, "this is where it started."

The park now boasts eight apple trees. Blueberry bushes and currants landscape the corners of the park, which also includes rows of strawberries.

“I think adding to the food security, especially in neighborhoods like this where you know getting a bushel of strawberries isn’t the cheapest thing,” Need said, “So if you can walk out to your park and get them yourself — it just allows you to have so much more access to food and a better understanding of where food comes from.”

The “Fix-It” day is part of a multi-phase project at the park. Organizers said it’s coming to life with grant money and matched funding.

On Saturday, volunteers created vibrant artwork with yarn on the chain-link fence surrounding the park’s tennis court.

Need said eventually the community council would like to resurface the court, add stripes for volleyball and install two basketball hoops.