I’ve been a bit busy lately. Not only in the yard fighting the dreaded influx of weeds that had taken over almost every square inch, but also at the community garden up the street. We’ve been tidying up the space and surveying the area to layout the locations of the future greenhouse and the many beds so that my neighbors can finally begin sowing the seeds of change in our food desert.
The Saturday before last, I led the charge to have 12, 12 foot by 4 foot raised beds constructed on the lot. No small feat in the blazing sun and Santa Anna dry hot winds. It just so happened that we had a San Diego Union Tribune reporter and photographer on site that day as well.
Well, today they printed the article! And there’s even a quote from the babbling baboon that is yours truly! So, in lieu of all this hard work, it is my hope that you will find the means to forgive my lack of blog post writing as of late. It seems that the very moment I become sedentary, I immediately pass out. Sometimes before I can jump in the shower and sometimes with a full beer in my hand growing warm as I snore and bore my girlfriend and my dog. Apologies all around!
That said, check out the article! I hope I don’t get sued for posting an article from the Union Tribune?! Do they still have William Randolf Hearst like lawyers? Gulp! Rosebud…
San Diego Union Tribune, February 24, 2015
UCSD GARDEN COULD BE MODEL FOR SUSTAINABLE FOOD
UCSD organizing creation of a healthy food source in southeastern San Diego
By Gary Warth 5:05 a.m. Feb. 24, 2015
SAN DIEGO — Neighborhood volunteers are working side by side with university researchers in southeastern San Diego to create a community garden that could bring fresh produce to an area with few markets that sell nutritious food.
Beyond feeding the neighborhood, however, the researchers say the broader vision of the project is to create a model for social and economic change and a sustainable food source around the world.
Mountain View resident James Gielow, one of a couple of dozen people who worked on the Ocean View Growing Grounds project on a recent Saturday, is just happy he’ll finally have a choice of fresh vegetables in his neighborhood.
“If you go around to the local supermarkets, the produce is kind of lacking,” he said. “The quick, easy fix for a lot of people in a community that can be considered a ‘food desert’ is to just order a pizza or something else that’s not necessarily healthy. I think the idea of actually getting healthy food right in the middle of a community is going to help fix that.”
Food deserts are generally defined as areas where affordable and nutritious food is difficult to find, especially for people without cars living in low-income areas such as Mountain View.
Gielow and other volunteers helped build the first of 17 raised beds that will be part of the community garden on Ocean View Boulevard. When the project is finished, it will include an outdoor classroom, kitchen, a children’s growing space and two “food forests,” a system of fruit, nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables that grow in natural soil.
A community board will control the garden and decide who gets to plant in the 4-by-8-foot beds while UC San Diego students will use the site for studies that range from science to economics.
Community gardens can provide fresh produce to poor neighborhoods, but they also can cost about $40,000 or $45,000 to create, said Paul Watson, executive director of the Global Action Research Center, a nonprofit focused on finding solutions to unhealthy living conditions and one of the partners involved in the garden.
Watson said the Ocean View Growing Grounds can serve as a model for cutting the costs of community gardens while also broadening their mission.
Keith Pezzoli, director of the Urban Studies and Planning Program at UC San Diego, is working with a team of researchers on the garden project, which began in 2012.
“We don’t want this to be characterized as a university project,” Pezzoli said. “It’s an authentic, neighborhood-based community project that has invited UCSD.”
The school is involved with the garden as part of the University of California’s Global Food Initiative, created last year by UC President Janet Napolitano. The initiative involves all 10 UC campuses working on sustainable ways to create a worldwide supply of nutritious food.
A survey conducted by Pezzoli’s students found 800 vacant lots in Southeast San Diego. The Global Action Research Center is leasing the site for its garden from Bob Georgiou, a UC San Diego graduate who studied urban planning.
Watson said another hurdle in creating an affordable community garden is the cost of soil-testing. Many community gardens avoid the expensive tests by using raised beds and packaged planting soil, which itself can be costly.
The $20,000 cost of the tests at the Ocean View garden was picked up by the city of San Diego, which used a federal grant for restoring brownfield sites, or lands that have been contaminated from commercial use, Watson said.
A neighborhood survey found 160 people were interested in the garden, Watson said. While the 17 raised planters and food forests won’t meet that need, organizers said a network of people growing and sharing their own food could spring from the garden.
“We’re going to be doing educational workshops here about growing,” Watson said. “People who don’t have a plot can then go back to their own backyard or do container gardens, and then we could really begin to set up some sort of sharing program. So if I’m growing beans and someone else is growing corn, we could come together and share.”
Workers at the site included UC San Diego political science major Hayden Galante, who said he is researching the social structure of the garden and community.
“I’d like to do a comparative study of how various other gardens have worked in creating a sustainable volunteer organization, and hopefully we can look at how this garden can do it better,” he said.
Danielle Ramirez, who is studying urban studies and planning at UC San Diego, said the focus of her research will be on how there can be a mutual exchange of information between the university and the garden project.
Watson said another student is researching how a community garden can address a community’s nutritional needs, and an economics student is researching whether the garden can produce enough to sell in a farmers market.
© Copyright 2015 The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. An MLIM LLC Company. All rights reserved.
That’s pretty neat isn’t it! There are big plans on the horizon for this garden and I’m so glad that I am able to be there to chip in and use what skills I have to make the neighborhood a better place. My dad’s birthday is on March 1st, he would’ve been 68 years old. I discovered right after he passed how much volunteer and outreach work he did in his life. So many people came out of the woodwork who’s life he touched. If I can be 1/16th the man he was then I will have achieved much in this life. He posthumously taught me how to give instead of take. It is in his image and honor that I am trying to leave my mark in this world. Cheers poppa bear!
On another note, this is the second time this year that my ugly mug has graced the Union Tribune. The first was work related and has nothing to do with gardens or sustainable living. Care to check that one out while I got your attention? Then go here.
Okay, I’ve tooted my own horn for long enough. I have a juicy post about the second phase to my winter cover crop that I’ve been putting off for a while. So, keep an eye out for that one.