Volunteers help plant Monterey’s first community garden.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
As Monterey County communities gain momentum in their sustainability initiatives, one thing is clear – these initiatives require citizen action. Enter a group of volunteers partnering with the city of Monterey to plant a community garden behind Colton Hall.
Megan Tolbert, director of Monterey Green Action, hopes it will be the first of many around town. “The main goal is to create a public space that demonstrates an aesthetically pleasing garden using edible plants, and to engage the community to have a place where they can come and ask questions.”
While MGA and the city work out the kinks about the gardens, a large group of volunteers waits for permission to begin working on it. Doug Stafford, superintendent of Monterey Parks and Recreation, says plans won’t be finalized for at least two weeks. “One of the questions to be answered is, will the city run and coordinate it, and then have groups that participate, or would we have some sort of an agreement that somebody else would run it?” he says.
The garden, currently a small empty lot behind the historic city hall building, will grow native plants, fruits and vegetables.
A couple of months ago, following a brainstorming session with other Monterey residents, Tolbert proposed the garden to the Monterey City Council. “That [garden] is one of the items we have in our tool chest for being a green community,” Monterey Mayor Chuck Della Sala says. The city owns the lot and will provide drip irrigation.
Tolbert says local food sources – like community gardens – are a fundamental part of sustainable eating. “They’re a source of high-quality food, you’re able to connect yourself with the seasons and the land. It’s a harmonious integration in sustainability.”
To date, a small group of volunteers has tilled parts of the lot and planted clover and wildflowers. They will begin hauling Naanva Tea compost from local restaurants in August, and are communicating with the Monterey Institute of International Studies to share ideas from the garden the school started last year.
Looking ahead, MGA wants to start a bicycle loan program in conjunction with the garden.
“We see a rise in the need for volunteer and community efforts to maintain the quality of life in cities,” Tolbert says. “This is just one step forward in getting that higher quality of life.”