Celebrating six years as community gathering spot
By Gustavo McGrew
Horizon Health and Wellness’ Earth Heart Park is celebrating its sixth year of existence with some statewide recognition and is preparing to kick off the New Year in 2018 with a full schedule of events that will warm the heart and bring smiles to our community.
Earth Heart Park (EHP), located on the SE corner of Superstition Blvd. and Plaza Drive, was designed and landscaped by Tom McDonald of Smiling Dog Landscape and Kris Embach of Apache Landscape. Both Tom and Kris were recently recognized by the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association with the Heritage Award for creating an amazing community park with a substantial water harvesting design, as well as numerous wellness features, including a quarter mile walking path, performing arts stage, cooking area and most plants having a nutritional or medicinal property. Also, the walking path is designed in the shape of four hearts that all converge at the center of the park into 24 raised garden beds.
As of the park opening, Horizon has partnered with the City of Apache Junction and numerous groups like the Superstition Arts and Cultural Alliance (SACA) and the Apache Junction Wellness Partnership (AJWP) to bring monthly farmers and artisan markets to the park, as well as seasonal festivals that promote community wellness. The cost for the events has always been free to the community and also to the vendors who participate. This is due to the generosity of Cenpatico Integrated Care, which provided the funding to build the park, the financial support to offset the cost of fees for the vendors and entertainers and the marketing materials for the events held at EHP.
This coming January 6, the artisan markets will again take place from 9 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of each month through March. These artisan markets are free to the public and entertainment Markets, which have traditionally started in October for the past four years, got a late start this year due to working with the city of Apache Junction to lower the fee for the Transaction Privilege Tax license that all vendors need to have in order to participate.
The new city of AJ’s tax rate for vendors dropped from a previous $50 per year down to $2 a year, which “is a significant recognition of small kitchen-top craftspeople just starting out and will assist them in participating in this type of event. Community integration is the key reason the park was built as part of Horizon’s efforts to support wellness activities in Apache Junction,” stated Sharon Stinard, Chairperson of SACA and the AJ Wellness Partnership.
An additional event that is planned to take place at EHP this coming year is a two-day bluegrass festival scheduled for March 10-11, which will be co-hosted by Horizon, SACA and the Arizona Blue Grass Association. As part of the First Annual Blue Grass Festival, the Grand Canyon State Model Railroaders will be exhibiting a major HO scale train display in the lobby of Horizon Health and Wellness, located next to the park. The final festival of the season is the 6th Annual Earthday Celebration that is scheduled to take place April 21 and is co-hosted with the city of Apache Junction. The highlight of this ever-expanding festival of culture and wellness is the release of thousands of ladybugs throughout the park by youthful people of all ages.
Horizon Health and Wellness thanks all of our community partners for making the park a special place in Apache Junction that promotes health and happiness. Please join us for the numerous events scheduled in EHP. For information on upcoming events or on being a vendor, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or at 480-338-0420.