[Editor’s Note: You may remember my article about our South Bay Community Garden. Good news! They just broke ground to expand. I’m posting the full press release here to inform the public.]
Ann Baldridge / Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County
The Tijuana River Valley Community Garden – the county’s largest community garden – has announced expansion plans, thanks to two generous grants from San Diego County and the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD). The Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County (RCD), which manages the garden, is adding 78 new gardening plots to benefit local residents. The expansion, beginning this month, will take the garden from five to 11 acres.
The RCD received a $106,162 grant from the San Diego County Neighborhood Reinvestment Program (NRP), through a recommendation from District 1’s Supervisor Greg Cox. The NRP funds projects that benefit the community and enhance the region’s quality of life. These funds will be used to cover the direct costs associated with expanding the garden, including site preparation, irrigation infrastructure and installation.
A $37,660 grant for urban agriculture projects from the NACD will provide staffing resources to plan and oversee the expansion process, including staff time to conduct extensive outreach and education with gardeners on topics such as efficient irrigation and composting. The NACD granted a total of $2 million to 41 districts across 25 states as part of its Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative. The initiative – which is in partnership with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service – helps urban farmers and community gardens implement conservation practices that support local food production, provide opportunities for education and stewardship, and protect natural resources.
Sheryl Landrum, Executive Director of the RCD, says, “The need for additional garden plots has been overwhelming – there is currently a three-year waiting list.” She adds, “Thanks to these generous grants from San Diego County and NACD, more local residents will be able to enjoy the many benefits gardening provides and grow fruits and vegetables, providing healthy and low-cost food for themselves and their families.”
The garden currently consists of 138 30-by-30-foot plots. The expansion will include 72 new 30-by-30-foot plots for local residents, as well as six quarter-acre plots – or microfarms – which will be reserved for gardeners who want grow produce on a larger scale, potentially for sale at local markets and restaurants. At least one of the quarter-acre plots will be held for educational purposes such as demonstrating sustainable gardening techniques, trialing diverse crop varieties, and hosting groups from schools and local non-profit organizations.
“In addition to the new gardening plots, we are planning a number of exciting enhancements to the garden,” says Ann Baldridge, RCD Program Manager. “We will replace invasive plant species growing in the adjacent area with environment-friendly native plants. By planting a hedgerow of these native plants, we will help provide habitat for pollinators and other beneficial wildlife and protect plots from wind. We will also install interpretive signage to highlight the garden, its history, and its location within the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park. A new 20-foot shipping container will store tools and equipment, and a new bulletin board will promote garden events and trainings. We will also improve our irrigation and composting systems,” she says.
The RCD plans to establish a volunteer program to help maintain the walking trails surrounding the garden, as well as to assist with native plantings. “In addition to our gardeners, we will engage local scouts, schools, veterans, corporate groups, and others to help care for this special corner of the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park,” Baldridge adds. “Our goal is to make it a destination spot for the community to enjoy.”
For more information about the Tijuana River Valley Community Garden or the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County, visit www.rcdsandiego.org or call 619-562-0096.
1. The Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County (RCDGSDC) manages the Tijuana River Valley Community Garden, located within the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, through a contract with the County of San Diego, Parks and Recreation Department.
2. The mission of the RCD is to protect conserve, and restore natural resources through education, information, and technical assistance programs.
3. The Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego [RCD] is a non-enterprise Special District organized under Division 9 of the California State Public Resources Code.
4. RCDs are tasked with voluntary, natural resources conservation on public and private lands. The RCD’s boundaries encompass a service area of approximately 2,886 square miles or 1,847,300 acres throughout San Diego County.