By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
Visitors to Cody this summer might be able to pick their own salad greens straight from the garden – downtown.
This summer, a hydroponic garden was installed in Bell Plaza, a public space in the heart of downtown Cody. Bernie Butler works for the city, but is volunteering her time to take care of the vertical garden that has been placed for the benefit of the community.
“It’s just to get the community involved in growing edibles, besides a dirt base,” Butler said. “And it’s more of an art form, too, just to enhance this plaza that we have it in.”
A vertical garden is just what it sounds like — plants placed in upward reaching rows instead of spread out across the ground. The plants are raised in a hydroponic system which uses nutrient-rich water for nourishment rather than dirt.
Butler said Cody is one of several Wyoming cities to embrace the vegetable growing technique.
“They partnered with Travis Hines out of Pinedale, he has Bio-Logic Designs,” she said. “He built this frame for it, brought everything down, we planted the plants, which he supplied, and filled up the tank – we have fish and aqua plants in there. He just got us going.”
The funds for the garden came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, funneled through the Wyoming Business Council. Amy Quick, the Northwest Regional Director for the Business Council, said the project benefits communities in a number of ways.
“Eleven different communities throughout the state are participating, including, of course, Cody, but Sheridan, Rock Springs, Casper are a few other examples,” Quick said. “And it’s just a really great opportunity to get some community involvement, focus on nutrition, education, economic development.”
Butler pointed out that the produce from the garden is available to anyone.
“I do have a couple older people that come by almost every night, and they take some lettuce and some kale, and the mint is their favorite.”
Butler adds that once colder weather arrives, the garden will move to Eastside Elementary, where students there will take over the process – and the produce.