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Re: Usage and Sunnyvale

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Usage and Sunnyvale
  • From: yarrow@sfo.com
  • Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 12:21:38 -0800

At 8:34 PM -0800 1/22/06, Don Boekelheide wrote:
>...Every successful garden
>has someone in this role, a person (sometimes more)
>who loves gardening and is right there in the garden
>minding all the little things, from weeds needing
>whacking to helping Ms. Jones plant her tomatoes when
>her arthritis is too painful.

So true. The community garden here is pretty much run by one volunteer
who's there every day, knows everyone, keeps tabs on open plots and is
quick to clear and reassign them, and makes sure things get done. I spend a
lot of time at the garden myself, and I can count on one hand the number of
times when I've been there and she has not.

>American community gardening is not really 'allotment'
>gardening ('rent-a-plot') like it is traditionally in
>the UK or Europe, there is more a 'barnraising'
>element as Karl Linn put it - so, in calculating
>'usage' for decision makers and funders, be sure to
>measure overall social impacts, not number of

Great advice! Our local city council is voting today on whether to more
than double our fees, based on a staff report that says, essentially, the
gardeners have "exclusive use" of the land. One of the Parks & Rec
commissioners even accused the gardeners of being "selfish" because we
objected to the increase. Only one of the commissioners questioned why
community gardens were being targeted to pay what the city calculates as
100 percent of "direct fees," while the city continues to subsidize a
lawn-bowling area at $90K a year more than fees collected, not to mention
the other sports fields and facilities. Several gardeners have spoken at
commission and council meetings to make the point that the gardens are a
park open to all, not (as staff said) analogous to renting a room, but so
far have not gotten the message across.

>This kind of thinking 'outside the plot' may seem like
>nonsense, given the need to simply get the garden up
>and running. But reminding folks that community
>gardens have broad benefits to the larger community is

Someone said that community gardens are 50 percent gardening and 100
percent politics. We've lost some gardeners who don't want to deal with the
politics, though.

>Unharvested crops
>attract critters, and I'll bet there are a couple of
>rats even there in Sunnyvale (they probably listen to
>ipods and drink only lattes, but if one of those
>babies runs across Councilperson Schmertz's foot while
>he's visiting the garden, you're sure to hear about
>it. ....

Absolutely. Roof rats in Silicon Valley really prefer yards with fruit
trees, but they do visit the community garden, and I have jumped a few
times when one ran across my path (or worse, part of one was lying in the
path, probably a hawk's lost supper). In the summer it's mostly squirrels
eating the heirloom tomatoes. In winter it's birds munching on the
brassicas and peas. One of the important ways to guard against rats is to
not provide rat habitat. We do have several gardeners who refuse to
maintain their gardens (one even said that the contract he signed does not
explicitly forbid him to maintain rat habitat, so he refuses to clean up
his plot).

C'mon over and visit, Josh. This garden has evolved over 20 or 30 years,a
nd we have other gardens in town that do things differently.


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