The carrot is almost full and that's a good sign for future harvests at the 4th East Garden.
A once-dubious campaign to raise more than $250,000 to save the quarter-acre community garden from becoming a casualty of development is growing into a success story.
Wasatch Community Gardens executive director Emily Aagaard said the group is just $30,000 shy of the money needed to purchase the garden at 553 S. 400 East and allow community members to continue the 25-year tradition of planting, tending and harvesting crops at the site.
The urban garden's chances of survival recently got a big boost from Salt Lake City through its Open Space Lands program, which has agreed to cover 50 percent of the purchase price to make sure the parcel remains open space in perpetuity.
"It's a unique project," said Emy Storheim, manager of the city's Open Space Lands program, which is funded by the $5.3 million bond approved by Salt Lake City voters in 2003.
Aagaard also credited the Trust for Public Land of Utah for providing valuable consultation and leads to Wasatch Community Gardens, the nonprofit agency that manages the 4th East Garden and three other community gardens.
Several donors also have stepped forward and contributed to the cause, something Aagaard said she hopes continues so Wasatch Community Gardens can meet its March 31 deadline to purchase the property.
"We have been really amazed," she said. "When we started looking at this campaign, we knew we had a huge goal. We've really received an outpouring of support from the community."
That support has been documented outside the 4th East Garden by a large carrot that is filled in with orange as the money total climbs.
A final fundraising push is planned from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 3 with a "Save the 4th East Garden" party at Squatter's Pub Brewery, 147 W. Broadway. For a $25 donation, partygoers will receive two drink tickets and be able to sample appetizers from several restaurants, with 100 percent of the funds going toward the garden.
"Save the 4th East Garden" T-shirts also will be available for purchase, Aagaard said.
The land where the garden was being leased was sold last March to Community Development Corp. of Utah, which builds affordable housing. Soon after, it won a competitive proposal process with the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City to build 9th Street Place, a mixed-use, mixed-income project on the old Sure Appliance site at 153 W. 900 South. That made the garden land expendable to the nonprofit development group, and it offered to sell the property to Wasatch Community Gardens.For more information about saving the 4th East Garden, visit wasatchgardens.org.