“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt”
The Discovery Garden is a special part of Mesa County Libraries on the corner of Fifth Street and Chipeta Avenue in Grand Junction. Within its boundaries you will find a lovely setting for the community to sit and relax, check out some educational programming and enjoy fresh food grown using pesticide-free and permacultural practices.
Since becoming involved with the Discovery Garden here at Mesa County Libraries, my knowledge on the different elements it takes to keep a garden growing smoothly has greatly expanded. A few months ago if you asked me to point out a “bioswale,” I would have stared at you blankly. Now that I’m up to speed, here’s some garden education in which you, too, can indulge!
According to this informative USDA link, bioswales are “stormwater runoff conveyance systems that provide an alternative to storm sewers. They can absorb low flows or carry runoff from rains and snowmelt to storm sewer inlets or directly to surface waters.” Bioswales are dug out with sloped sides to create a depressed area that effectively collects water which infiltrates the soil. They are advantageous due to their ability to reduce and naturally treat stormwater runoff which helps reduce pollutants. Bioswales also add an aesthetically pleasing element to a public setting, while the added vegetation improves air quality.
A grant provided by the Western Colorado Community Foundation and a great deal of help from Bookcliff Gardens with the digging and construction of our bioswale helped make this feature of our garden go from dream to productive reality. The Discovery Garden bioswale will line the outer rim of the garden off Chipeta Avenue, collecting stormwater runoff to create a microhabitat. Our current bioswale is currently underway, as shown in the photo below. The depression is dug out and it is lined with wood chips. As the project develops, we would like to incorporate native grasses and a “food forest” complete with berries and herbs.
Progress is made weekly here at the garden, whether it’s new flowers in bloom or green leafy vegetables sprouting up from the earth. Due to COVID-19 we are currently unable to accept volunteers in the garden, but we encourage you to take a stroll through when you’re in the area.