Now that spring is almost here, people like to put into motion some of those good intentions to become healthier in the new year. I would like to suggest one: become a new gardener at the College Area Community Garden (CACG), an organic garden which is probably just around the corner from you.
Located at the north end of Zura Way just off Montezuma Avenue in San Diego, this beautiful 1-acre community garden sits on portions of four different private residential properties that adjoin San Diego State University property, specifically the Associated Students Children's Center parking lot 2C. Established in 2013, the CACG is a nonprofit association consisting of 102 raised garden boxes and 56 fruit trees — including strawberry guava, various citrus, persimmons, figs, apples, pears, plums, pomegranate, papaya, avocado and many more.
I started gardening there three years ago even though I have my own veggie garden boxes at home. I find the community garden experience to be very rewarding. Here are just some of the reasons.
Amenities: CACG gardeners who lease space enjoy a well-stocked tool shed complete with organic garden materials for their use. High-grade garden soil rich in nutrients is provided. Water is always nearby because there are over 20 faucets. Gardeners can now draw from rainwater that has been collected in our two large tanks. Compost is created, “cooked” and monitored on the property, and then stored in three tall bins. There is a 900-square foot shaded area for classes, meetings and events.
We have established table grapevines, thornless blackberries, many healthy fruit trees (some of which are over seven years old), honey bee hives and solitary bee houses, wildflowers and herbs. Soon we will have fresh eggs to be shared by those participating in caring for chickens.
Events: Our volunteer work parties attract community members as well as local and international student volunteers.
Educational events led by master gardeners and other local experts are frequent and very useful. And we have great parties! We throw a couple of BBQs every year, which include fabulous dishes contributed by fellow gardeners.
Sustainability: Organically growing food is healthy for us all and for the environment. Garden founder and CEO Henry Bertramand and the entire elected volunteer board of directors are constantly mindful of the best possible ecological and environmental practices in our garden community.
Community: At the request of San Diego master gardeners, the College Area Community Garden became one of six county centers for garden manager meetings, training events, etc. Board members are active in offsite community events, including neighborhood fairs and meetings with local government and business leaders.
Support and fun: When people are growing food together, there is inevitably camaraderie and sharing of all phases of the growing experience — and especially the garden bounty! There is usually a large variety of tasty seasonal fruit, vegetables and herbs — enough that gardeners can often share with others. And aesthetically, the garden is a delight to be in! All this for a very low fee to lease a box.
So, those are some of the best things about gardening at the CACG. Spring is just around the corner and it is hands down the best time to join. We will advise you how to plant and care for popular items like leafy greens, carrots, radishes, onions and peas. What’s not to like?
—Robin Clarke is a College Area Community Garden volunteer. Visit collegeareagarden.org.