Local Community Garden Now in 13th Year

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Our neighborhood on Ocean View Drive between Broadway and Margarido has a magnet that we all refer to as the community Garden. This is a story about that long block of neighbors in Rockridge that came together as a community to celebrate, to work, and to join each other as a neighborhood around our garden.

Thirteen years ago, our garden area was an abandoned space between sidewalk and street. Barren and full of leaves, electrical panels and trash, it was not an inviting entrance to our little community. Then, more than 15 neighbors came together to excavate, amend soil, set boulders, install temporary irrigation and plant. Materials were purchased by the neighborhood or through donations from local nurseries and Acapulco Rock and Soil in Richmond.

Since that summer of 2000, we have had an annual December holiday party to watch the lights go on in the trees and decorate them with wonderful outdoor ornaments given to us by a neighbor living many blocks away. Neighbors install the tree lights prior to the party. Then, working from the shoulders of adults, kids decorate the trees and the adults bring appetizers and drinks to share. We invite everyone on our block: From new homeowners and renters to old-timers, everyone is welcome.

Over the years, the garden has been tended by a group of Garden Guardians. In dry months, the guardians use soaker hoses to keep the garden watered. They weed, prune and pick up debris. A dedicated group, they have not changed their guardian schedule for 12 years.

This year, we received a grant from Keep Oakland Beautiful. With that funding, we purchased materials for a permanent drip irrigation system that will use water supplied by a generous neighbor.

On Mother's Day, eight neighbor men installed the new system, and the plants are thriving.

The community garden continues to evolve. Trees reach adolescence. Native plants thrive. Weeds grow. Cigarette butts are thrown and picked up. We have never had vandalism, graffiti or trauma to our garden. Yet, as happens in nature, an aspect of urban gardening has cropped up: gophers have discovered the garden.

To be continued.....

-by Greer Alley