Newly approved Hilltop Garden to educate community

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By Gina Velasquez

A proposed piece of land educational garden has been approved that the Los Alamos Family YMCA will be operating on county property in the near future. The planning and development stages are slated to begin this spring.
The community voted for the name Hilltop Garden in an online vote in February.
Additionally, 50 individuals also elected to receive continued information about garden education efforts. The Y and the county are finalizing an operations agreement for the Y to host this garden as a result of a county Request For Proposal process last fall.
A license agreement is in the process of being approved.
“I am excited by the enthusiastic response of the individuals and groups in this community who want to be involved in the ‘growth’ of Hilltop Garden,” said Kimberly Pulliam, Y community programs director. “Our hope for this garden is that it will be a place that is welcoming to everyone and that it will be a place of learning and inspiration.”
The one acre piece of land is on the North Mesa near the stables, next to the tennis courts. Planning to build a garden and have members of the community volunteer their time to use the garden as an educational outlet.
“There will be a special focus on youth outreach,” Pulliam said. “However, the garden will be for everyone to cultivate land and just get their hands dirty.”
The Family YMCA received a grant from the Los Alamos Youth Food Project outreach program. A grant from State Farm for educational outreach was also approved earlier this year.
Funding for much of Hilltop Garden’s supplies, infrastructure, and activities comes from the remainder of a State Farm grant given to the LAYFP.
Though the terms of the State Farm grant for LAYFP have ended, the remaining amount from the grant will be used towards Hilltop Garden.  
“Through services by the LA Food Project, which is a nonprofit will provide the Hilltop Garden ways to grow food there, to give to those in need,” Pulliam said.
According to the link on laymca.org, the purpose of LAYFP closely parallels a primary purpose of Hilltop Garden, “to encourage and enable youth and adults to study and apply historical and current resilient gardening practices, and through the application of these practices, to provide ongoing educational and leadership opportunities for all ages.”
A Spring Garden Getaway is planned for middle school students and volunteers from the Teen Center on April 7-11.
Participants will be taking-on various garden related projects, including working on Hilltop Garden and the teen center’s “garden area.”
Volunteers will also be visiting other nearby New Mexico gardens/small farms, as well as doing garden-related activities such as planting seeds starts, garden-structure construction and arts and crafts projects.  
For more information about Hilltop Garden, visit laymca.org and go to the Hilltop Garden link, or find them on Facebook (facebook.com/#!/HilltopGardenLosAlamos), or to volunteer email Kimberly Pulliam at kpulliam@laymca.org.