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More Garden for Sacramento!

  • Subject: [cg] More Garden for Sacramento!
  • From: "Bill Maynard" bMaynard@WoodRodgers.com
  • Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2003 10:17:40 -0700
  • Content-class: urn:content-classes:message
  • Thread-index: AcOHfoRC9C2eu/NdEdew4QADR2vUag==
  • Thread-topic: More Garden for Sacramento!

Here is a story that is in todays Sacramento Bee...Actually it's the Cover Story on the front Page...about a community garden that I have been helping with (designed the layout and the staked the plots)
 With the help of the Sacramento area community garden coalition, Sacramento is starting to make progress with community gardens...the city will be including community gardens in the parks and rec master plan...and including a policy on them...finding the land is another problem...

This parcel is located next to a local non-chain grocery store...almost 70 plots will serve the community that use to garden in a drainage ditch which carried runoff (heavy metals and petroleum products) from the street thru a swale in a near by park...next step we are trying to get the parks dept to cut loose with some of the park land which is not being used... in some spots folks have started gardening already on the park property as far as their hoses will reach.  This area has a large Hmong population with "needs" to garden as part of their life style and to supplement their income.  Less then 1 mile away.. the Hmong families also have transformed a piece of school property into a lush garden...for 35 families.  More sites are needed.. this the 4th site in the StoneSoup Community Garden project that I have been working on.  ACT could not find funding.. so our grant was large enough to help get them started.

Garden to blossom in Del Paso Heights
By Christina Jewett -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Chue Lao aimed a fan of water through a chain-link fence last week, spraying a tangle of pumpkin vines and cornstalks growing in a drainage ditch. 
About 10 local families have farmed there for about a decade, slinking through an opening in the fence to harvest vegetables on the inner slopes of the gully. 
Gardening near Lao's Del Paso Heights apartment is tough. The courtyards are paved over. The vacant lot across the street is off limits; at night, people plant stoves there, sinks and hypodermic needles, too. 
Soon, though, change will come. Area leaders have cleared and fenced the vacant lot, planning to open a new garden within a month. They're hoping to harness the Hmongs' motivation to garden into a green force -- crowding out crime and blight. 
"For others, gardening is more of an ideological thing, 'There should be gardens.' God bless 'em and power to 'em," said Harold Lawrence, president of Sacramento Area Congregations Together, which spearheaded the garden effort. "Our original motivation was to address community problems." 
The idea for the garden sprouted from meetings that ACT leaders convened in the summer of 2000 among residents, city officials and police. At that time, residents aired their fears about walking down the street and their disgust with the vacant lot. 
"I never let my three kids walk to (Noralto) school -- I always drive them," resident Elba Gutierrez said at one of the meetings. "No human being should have to walk there." 
Residents only had to look across Grove Street from the blighted lot for inspiration: a lush and fruitful garden, albeit in a drainage ditch. 
"The garden idea grew up sort of organically through the discussions about how to deal with the shabby conditions and trash," Lawrence said. 
And gardens continue to grow throughout the region for various reasons. The Western Growers Association launched a campaign in March at Noralto Elementary School, 477 Las Palmas Ave., to raise $7 million to put a garden at every school in California and Arizona. The campaign's aim is to boost youth nutrition and fight obesity. 
The Sacramento Hunger Commission praises community gardens as one solution to what it defines as "food insecurity," or limited or uncertain access to nutritious food. The commission plans to release an updated hunger report for 2003 that says 56,000 adults in Sacramento County experienced food insecurity in 2001. 
Residents also are pushing officials for more gardens. In response to requests, Sacramento Parks and Recreation officials will include community gardens for the first time in a 10-year master plan, to be released in more than a year. 
Janet Baker, park development manager, said the department hopes to contract with nonprofit groups that will manage gardens in the parks. Whatever the arrangement, the plan will fill a void -- the city doesn't run any gardens now, she said. 
"We're starting small, recognizing that the only way these gardens become successful is if the community wants to do them, to manage them," she said. 
Chong Lor, a North Sacramento resident and community leader, will run the new Del Paso Heights Garden behind Big G Market on Norwood Avenue. 
That garden emerged from an arrangement between ACT and the landowner, with Sacramento County gaining funding from the First Five Commission. Because of the arrangement, only families with children younger than age 6 can garden there. 
Still, gauging by three gardens that Lor manages in North Sacramento, it will be packed. 
Making his garden rounds six days a week, Lor chats with the mostly Hmong gardeners who tend their plots during evening hours. They work under sugar canes as high as a house, amid the aroma of cinnamon basil, picking eggplant, squash and peppers. 
Walking through the Morey Avenue Garden, Lor, who works for the Health Education Council in West Sacramento, said, "In the right season, you look every which way -- all ways -- something catches your eye." 
Lor said he founded that garden in 1994, hoping to provide an outlet for Hmong elders who felt trapped at home. They were frustrated, he said, that they couldn't contribute to the family. Hmong households often include three generations, Lor said, and the eldest generation often remembers farming in Laos. 
The Hmong, who fought on behalf of the United States in the Vietnam War, were exiled to Thailand in the '70s and many came to America in the mid-'80s as refugees. An estimated 35,000 live in the Sacramento area. 
Lao, who gardens in the ditch, recalled planting her own garden at a refugee camp in Thailand, she said through a translator. 
She said she doesn't fit the criteria to be granted a plot in the new garden, which will open as soon as officials hook up the water. 
Even with requirements for families with toddlers to garden there, Lor suspects the indomitable gardeners will make the once-feared vacant lot friendly. 
"Here, we have a water hose," Lao said, recalling that, in Laos, farming meant waiting for rain. "That can make a big impact with making the vegetables bigger and stronger."

Also see pictures at:

bill Maynard
sacramento area community garden coalition

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