Site of former drug houses in Phoenix gains new life, as community garden moves in

The site of some former drug houses in Phoenix is getting a makeover.

The site, a one-acre plot of land near 19th Avenue and Camelback Road is being turned into a community garden. The site is a dirt lot now, but crews are out there, day in and day out to, transform it into a beautiful community garden, and they are hoping to have the garden fully up and running, in time for the fall planting season.

"We went from a 55-acre regional garden site at Central [Avenue] and Indian School [Road], and then we come here, and this is one acre," said Terry Gellenbeck, Recycling Director for the group Keep Phoenix Beautiful. "This is more representative of what a community garden should be."   

Earlier in the year, the U.S. Department of the Interior took over the land that was being used as PHX Renews Community Garden. The group, as a result, had to relocate.

"We're going to have about 40 here, 40 4x8's," said Gellenbeck. "We're going to have this in-ground demonstration garden that native health is going to do. We're going to have Aquaponics. We're maybe going to have Hydroponics. We're going to have our own greenhouse."

The group brought over the eco-friendly house that was built by Arizona State University, and they also knocked down two very old vacant homes that were on the property.

Neighbors in the area are reportedly excited for the growing garden.

"There was some criminal activity going on, so the neighbors were really happy," said Gellenbeck. "They were vacant for about eight years, so they were really happy when they tore the houses down, and already the value of the houses around here have gone up, now that these are gone."     

The group will be holding classes at teh garden on composting and mulching, among many other things, and they're hoping to make it an education center for the community.

Keep Phoenix Beautiful