This week April 13-19, 2009:
This is the first weekly report from the Beach Flats Community Garden. I hope this column will be a resource for other gardeners and community members looking to create and maintain sustainable and organic community gardens. Please see our contact page and visit us soon!
This week we are cleaning our land where we have planted beans, corn, and squash. We are working with the city of Santa Cruz to keep are trash clear. Twenty-one of our gardeners have cleaned, worked and planted their crops, two plots have been cleaned and not planted, and one plot has been planted by volunteers and not the primary gardeners.
Because most of the gardeners spent March clearing and cleaning our land we have a lot of green waste. Fortunately, we are a park of the City of Santa Cruz and we work together to clean the green waste. At the same time, we are receiving some sort of “blowback” of the restructuring of the city and there has been some “mis-communication,” or lack of communication, regarding the pick-up of our green waste. The city does not want a dumpster at our location so our green waste accumulates in a pile, until the city comes with a truck and city employees and gardeners load the waste. The civic administration has been neglected for the past two years and more severely since December 2008. We like working with the city to maintain our garden and hope they will be here soon to help us clear the green waste.
I want to write a bit about the two gardeners who have not worked their land because this could be a common challenge in urban gardening. One gardener has not been in the garden since he harvested corn last August. This is an example of one of the few challenges of the garden. For many reasons, our gardeners expect that each gardener will be self-motivated to plant. When a gardener is not motivated, the land remains fallow. The city contract does speculate that a gardener that does such a thing will partake in a probationary period in which it will be determined whether he or she will plant the land. However, the city administration is not happening, therefore whe have two fallow plots. At the same time, the rest of the gardeners needed him to clear his land in March because uncleared land attracts snails and gophers and, “Se ve muy feo,” or, “Looks ugly.”
This is an example of the way our city contract does not reflect the particular need of an organic sustainable garden. If you take a plot in our garden it is imperative that the primary gardener clear his or her land. Uncleared and fallow land attracts pests, such as snails and gophers, therefore, when the uncleared and weeded land attracts these pests that are detrimental to the harvest. Thus, it is ideal that each gardener has an understanding of the communal and organic land-use practices that our lead gardeners use. The city contract does not reflect this particular understanding of land-use, so each gardener is accountable for employing these practices. In my opinion, it would be ideal to hold a contract with either the city or Seaside company that honors this practice.
The fallow land did attract many gophers. Gophers eat plat roots to survive so they were happy to find a plot with so many roots. However, we, the gardeners do not welcome gophers in our land because gophers also eat the roots of our harvest! Fortunately, today, we drowned the gophers out and killed three. While this may seem brutal or thoughtless to some people, we must kill gophers in this manner in order to continue our sustainable and organic gardening practices.
The third gardener who has not planted is the Kid’s Club of the Beach Flats Community Center. Their plot has been cleared and cleaned twice this season; first, by the parents of the Kid’s Club participants, and second by members of a Christian church from Rockland, California. The church members also planted food, built a fence, and installed a non-working drip irrigation system. Since our civic contract does not reflect the communal understanding of the land, the primary gardener, can plant whatever he or she wants to with out the necessary knowledge to ensure a plant’s success. In other words, what has occurred in the past 2 weeks is as follows: the church group cancelled their trip to Mexico, they still wanted to “serve” so they contacted Reina Ruiz (former city employee and Beach Flats Community Center liason) to support the community center and she directed them to support the Kid’s Club plot in the garden. The helpers violated many contractual obligations and are not gardeners themselves. They consulted Domingo regarding the planting of all the food and read books to learn about drip irrigation but did not actually have experience working with such a system. Some of the children from the Kid’s Club did work some of the days. Therefore, they particpated to some extent in working the land. The church group left the drip irrigation with out a connecting pipe and to date it remains broken. Domingo watered the plants on Monday and the Kid’s Club has returned once this week to see their plants. I am excited to have children in the garden, however, I am disappointed they were unable to plant their own plants. It is important to note, that the Kid’s Club is part of the Beach Flats Community Center, which the city council of Santa Cruz cut out its budget this year before the end of the fiscal year. Therefore, these former imployees, including Ruiz have been working diligently to keep the center open. (For more informatio go to http://www.beachflatscommunitycenter.org.)
This is a brief summary of one week in the garden. I hope this blog will be a resource for gardeners, community members, our garden, and any one else who is interested. I look forward to reporting weekly from the Beach Flats Community Garden in Santa Cruz, CA.