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Durango KOA Builds ‘Green Gathering Place’

August 2, 2012 by   - () Leave a Comment

Some of the harvest at the Durango, Colo., KOA.

An unused area of the KOA campground in Durango, Colo., is now a popular, green gathering place for campers.

Owner Jay Coates, along with his wife, Carol, saw an opportunity in a cut-through area between buildings and investigated how they might better use the space, according to a news release.

Jay Coates picked up the book, “All New Square Foot Gardening,” and decided to give it a try. Coates and Master Gardener and Workamper Randy King built the raised beds and combined the ingredients to achieve the right soil mix. Campers are welcome to contribute to the composting bins that ultimately end up in the raised garden soil. One bin is always “active,” meaning the contents can be used now; the other is always “cooking.”

“The raised beds are easier to plant and maintain and require no tilling; they make gardening a pleasure,” says Coates.

They followed the instructions in the book, planted this spring and now have herbs and vegetables growing throughout the summer. “We have a sign up that asks campers to not pick the vegetables, but we find them poking around under the leaves just to see how they’re coming along,” Coates said.

“Campers are welcome to take the herbs to use in their own cooking; we have plenty of those, as this is their third year. We don’t have enough vegetables for all campers, so we hand out the week’s harvest in baggies to the campers who attend Randy’s weekly garden talk,” says Coates. “Randy used to own a nursery in Homestead, Fla., and he really knows his stuff. The campers love learning about the square-foot garden concept and they really enjoy the fresh vegetables.”

Some of the pull-through sites along the stream that flows through the Durango KOA.

The Coates’ raised garden beds are the latest addition to many examples of green practices on the campground. Jay is a founding member of the KOA Kamp Green Team and continues to find new ways to “reuse, reduce and recycle.”

Next year, the Coates are considering installing a greenhouse on the campground to extend the Colorado growing season.

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