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Boise City Council approves urban farm-style park off of Cole Road

BoiseDev Project Tracker

A new city park focused on celebrating agriculture got the final green light.

Boise City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a rezone for Spaulding Ranch, a 20-acre urban farm park off of Cole Road near Capital High School. With this final approval, the property will begin its final transformation from an abandoned farm homestead to a park celebrating Ada County’s rural past.

“This has been a long time coming,” Boise Maylor Lauren McLean said, thanking longtime council members for seeing the project from start to finish.

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The early start to a farm

Spaulding Ranch will take several years to complete and depends on funding, but the final result will include teaching gardens, natural areas and orchards. Boise Parks and Recreation is planning demonstration gardens, a wildflower meadow, outdoor classrooms, play areas, picnic shelters and an area to wash and pack fresh produce.

Even before it was rezoned as open land with a historic overlay on Tuesday, staff has been working to launch the project. One hundred fruit trees were planted in the orchard last week, which will take a few years to bear fruit. Staff picked up debris on the property and development of a pest management system is underway.

Spaulding Ranch
A master plan for Spaulding Ranch. Courtesy of the City of Boise.

Boise Urban Garden School Executive Director Lisa Duplessie is working on the project. She said the land will be farmed with a focus on regenerative agriculture, which is a conservation and rehabilitative approach to soil health.

“The plan for the next year or two is to work on the soil,” Duplessie said. “This area hasn’t been farmed in a long time so we’ll be drill seeding some cover crop and keeping the weeds down.”

How will the food be used?

The farm will host agricultural focused programming, possibly through partnerships with groups like the University of Idaho and nonprofit Global Gardens. An entire section of the parcel will be returned to the natural state of the land with sagebrush, wildflowers and other plants native to the Boise foothills for habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Plans for how food grown on the property will be distributed are still in development. Early ideas include some CSAs for residents to purchase produce, donations to local food banks and a partnership with St. Luke’s Health System to fill prescriptions for fruits and vegetables.

Boise’s plans for Spaulding Ranch go all the way back to 2015 when the city executed a land swap to trade this property for a 6.5-acre property on Whitewater Park Boulevard to housing developer Local Construct.

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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