A growing concern

Kayenta’s community garden is open for business, but so far has no takers

Navajo Times | Cindy Yurth
After dispatching a pesky gopher, Sandstone Housing employees, left to right, Erwin Grisham, Joe Mariano, Bernadette Hardy, Trulan Ramsey and Frank Ramsey prepare the Kayenta community garden for planting Monday. Plots are available now and the garden should be ready for early crops in a week or two. Also helping with the garden but not pictured are Ryan Begay, Virgil Morgan and Molina Morgan.


Community gardens offer delicious, healthy food, all the exercise you need, interaction with other gardeners — and the occasional life-or-death drama.

When we visited Kayenta’s community garden in the center of the Sandstone Housing complex Monday, Sandstone Housing’s landscape specialist, Frank Ramsey, was in a pitched battle with a gopher.

“I’ve had the hose down his hole for two hours, and he hasn’t surfaced,” Ramsey complained. “I feel like Bill Murray in ‘Caddyshack.'”

But as we were talking, the industrious rodent popped up just feet from Ramsey, who, with the reflexes of a teenage soccer star, dispatched it with a shovel.

“I’m sorry you had to see that,” said Ramsey, who just minutes earlier had cautioned that he wanted everyone who walked through the garden gate to come with a a sense of calm and peacefulness so the plants would grow better. That evidently does not apply to gophers and crows, the garden’s two main antagonists.

So you see, Kayenta, what your community garden volunteers are going through so you can have a lovely, pest-free, irrigated space to plant nutritious food for your families. And you are not showing up.

Last year, the garden’s first year, Ramsey and a handful of other Sandstone employees created the garden with a grant from Kayenta Township, and offered plots to residents.

“In that one movie (‘Field of Dreams’), they say, ‘If you build it, they will come,'” Ramsey said. “Well, we built it, and nobody came.”

When no one came, the Sandstone folks, in addition to their demanding day jobs, tilled, planted, and laid dripline in the 55-by-80-foot space themselves. The garden responded gratefully to their care.

“We had so many vegetables, it was ridiculous,” Ramsey said. “We just had box after box. We took them down to the (housing) office and gave them away.”

This year, they want to share the wealth again. But also the work.

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Categories: Community
Tags: Kayenta

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at cyurth@navajotimes.com.