By Margie M. Palmer
In the past six years, the San Carlos Community Garden has morphed from a concept to a favorite community gathering space, but Garden Leadership Team Volunteer Kelly Wood admits that “it took a village” to transform the space into what it is today.
Wood, who is also a member of the San Carlos United Methodist Church, said the idea for the project came in 2010, when the pastor of the church approached her about starting a community garden.
“Community gardens really started to pop up around that time and the church wanted to be part of this movement,” she said. “The seed was planted and not too long after I wound up on an email chain for a $10,000 competitive grant that the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency was offering to any nonprofit organization that was interested in establishing a joint-use community garden with a school. We had been working with the Springall Academy for years, so we already had an established partnership when we applied for this grant.”
Springall jumped at the chance to get involved, she said, and when church members traveled to the school to look at a potential patch of land, they thought the plot would be approximately 8-by-10-feet in size.
They never imagined the director of the school would point them toward a three-quarter-acre lot that had already been outfitted with irrigation lines. Wood admits the size of the space was overwhelming.
“None of us were gardeners. We all liked to volunteer but none of us have a green thumb,” she said.
And once the church received notification that they were one of four agencies that were selected for the grant, they had “one of those oh [wow], what do we do now” moments.
The project snowballed from there; countless volunteers lined up to transform the dream of a community garden into a reality.
La Mesa landscape architect George Mercer helped with the design plans; the Girl Scouts and Eagle Scouts also stepped up to lend a helping hand.
“We’ve had the Border Patrol come out. We’ve had countless civic organizations, high school and community clubs come out to donate their time and expertise,” she said. “Everything you see in the garden today has been done by volunteers.”
San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman, who rents a plot in the garden, said he’s seen first-hand the dedication of the volunteers who have made the garden a success.
“Through their continued hard work, they have built a project that has brought neighbors together and educated residents about nutrition, fitness and healthy living,” Sherman said.
Those who have yet to take advantage of some of the garden’s educational plans are in luck. Wood said that CorePower Yoga will continue to sponsor Sunset Yoga in the Garden throughout the month of October. The free, guided yoga class will take place on Sunday nights from 5–6 p.m. with refreshments served from 6–6:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Nov. 11, the garden will host their annual Growing Connections, Festival of Fun. This year’s festival will take place between 1–3 p.m. and is aimed toward educating the community about the connections between food, health and nature. Not only will the event feature a variety of vendors who will be promoting gardening, health and nutrition, it will also include a myriad of hands-on activities for children and events.
The festival is open to all ages and there is no cost to attend.
Wood said she hopes that those who have yet to visit the garden will come out to see what the space has to offer.
“We want school children to come out as a class field trip to have a science study on the environment. We want citizens and neighbors to come out to celebrate birthdays and enjoy the space,” she said. “These events are really a chance for us to promote this open space that’s available to the community.”
— Margie M. Palmer is a freelance writer who has been racking up bylines in a myriad of publications for over a decade. Reach her at email@example.com.