Community Garden – a New Kind of Park and Recreation
The benefits of the Community Garden reach far beyond its 70 member households.
The Community Garden may not look like much from the road but get out of your car and take a stroll around. A maze of mini pocket gardens range in appearance from neat and orderly to wild and whimsical. We have turned a vacant, boring lot into a productive and pleasant place. I frequently encounter joggers, strollers, dog walkers and families. They like to cut through the garden. It is more entertaining and quieter than the sidewalk on the street. The paths mulched with wood chips are easier on the feet and shins. One family told me the garden is a destination for them, a place to walk to and a pleasant place to sit when they arrive.
Our gardeners represent a cross section of demographics, from a retired surgeon to a young family living in a small apartment. We even have a sous-chef from a world renowned Napa restaurant. Indeed, many of our members have embraced the Community Garden because it is in their own neighborhood - 10% of our members live within the neighborhood and walk or bike to the garden – and their involvement makes them even more engaged in their immediate community.
James B. lives at the Senior Housing at Trancas and Jefferson. He rides his 3 wheel bike to the garden. His plot contains flowering clematis vines, roses and hollyhocks as well as vegetables. He distributes his excess produce to other residents in the Senior Housing building. On warm evenings you will find him in his garden plot playing his bagpipes or violin.
Hermilo M. is there with his family. His toddler plays on the path while his parents tend the vegetables. The toddler (our next generation) benefits in so many ways; time with family, fresh air, exercise, exposure to nature and growing things, time away from a TV screen, improved nutrition.
Ignacio P. walks to the garden with his two teenage daughters. They like to sit and chat with their father while he works in his plot. I call that quality family time.
Jenny and Kevin of Platypus Tours use the garden as a team building activity for their employees.
Benoit M. is from France where the tradition of community gardens is so strong, a plot will stay in a family from generation to generation.
A group of Napa Cando Volunteers maintain several plots for the production of fresh produce exclusively for the Napa Food Bank. So much better than the usual selection of low nutrition, processed food with a chemical shelf life of 10 years normally available to low income families.
The Napa Community Garden Association is also feeling the squeeze from the increasing number of high density, infill housing projects in Napa. Vacant land like we currently occupy is not readily available within the city. Our founders had the foresight to install the infrastructure for drip irrigation throughout the garden, a huge asset in this drought prone state of California. We do not have the money or resources necessary to rebuild the infrastructure needed in a new location every 8 years.
We are looking to the public land use (parks) to establish a new form of park and recreation in Napa. We do not require concrete or asphalt. We do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides that poison the environment. Our garden is filled with birds, bees, butterflies, flowers and a patchwork of great gardening ideas that can be enjoyed by everyone.