Sand City Garden Gets White House Nod
December 17, 2012
Sand City's community garden is an evolving tale of renewal and cooperation. It's a community effort that, on Dec. 4, even earned honors from the U.S. president.
In summer 2011, the City Council signed onto a community vision to turn the eyesore on Dias Avenue and Hickory Street, across from City Hall, into a lush 5,000-square-foot public garden. Contractors chipped in their materials and labor to make it a reality. A year later, when the dissolution of local redevelopment agencies threatened to force the garden property's sale, the city performed a bureaucratic shell game to keep it.
Three garden leaders—Susan "Suzka" Collins, Ron Brown and Don DiFede—received the President's Volunteer Service Award Dec. 4. The presentations included National & Community Service certificates with gold pins, letters of congratulations from President Obama and recognition certificates from the U.S. Congress.
"A city-owned vacant lot was transformed from blight to a focal-point for community gatherings and a venue for the community to grow food for their plates," says Norman Yassany, who serves on the CNCS local certifying committee.
"Over the past year the community has enjoyed dinners at the garden, featuring the garden's on-the-spot fruits and veggies. Central to the space is a magnificent barbecue oven, donated by volunteers and surrounded by fruit trees, composting bins, and raised garden beds. The entire garden is brightened with local artistic knick-knacks and decor."
State Sen. Bill Monning, formerly of the 27th Assembly District, also honored several garden volunteers for their contributions to the community: Gay and Mike Morris, Bob Winkleblack, Caria Martins, Vivian Garcia, Luisa Musni and Dole Fresh Vegetables, Salinas. (Above, Sand City Mayor David Pendergrass poses with Garcia and her award.)