Grow Your Own Food! Community Gardening in Davis

Community Gardens - Noelle planting
Noelle enjoys being outdoors planting vegetables in a community garden.

By Dani Lee

For those of us itching to grow our own food but who don’t have a bountiful yard or whose yards may be shaded by beautiful trees, community gardens are one option. And luckily, Davis has two public community gardens and a slew of other ‘community’ gardening options available to choose from!

According to the American Community Garden Association (ACGA), community gardens are any piece of land gardened by a group of people. Most community gardens provide community members a space of land to garden as well as communal tools, access to water, and community.

Community gardens can help you not only localize your food consumption if you choose to grow fruits and/or veggies in your space, they can also be a catalyst for building community and help save you some money. Community gardens are often developed on land in urban areas that would otherwise sit unused, in turn promoting beautification in our neighborhoods and also preserving green space. Gardening is also a great source of exercise, therapy, recreation and education according to the ACGA.

Davis Community Garden

The Davis Community Garden, sponsored by the City of Davis, is located on 5th Street between L and Pole Line Ave. and also conveniently located just down the street from Redwood Barn Nursery for all your gardening needs!

“My regular day job is indoors in front of a computer; I love having the garden work to shift gears both physically and mentally. There’s a congenial social atmosphere in the garden, AND I get vegetables to take home!” (Jane Schafer-Kramer)

The Davis Community Garden boasts 113 garden plots; full plots are 18×20’ in size, but a few half plots are available for renting as well. Rental periods begin at the start of the year. After paying $17.50 (half-plot) or $35 (full-plot) for a one-time cleaning deposit fee, gardeners can rent a full-plot for $70 per year and a half-plot for $35 a year.

With the recent increase in interest in renting garden plots at the Davis Community Garden, the estimated wait for a plot right now is about a year and a half.

Jane Schafer-Kramer has been managing the garden in her role as Community Garden Coordinator since 2001.

“I actually got the job after answering a help wanted ad in the newspaper,” said Schafer-Kramer. “My regular day job is indoors in front of a computer; I love having the garden work to shift gears both physically and mentally. There’s a congenial social atmosphere in the garden, AND I get vegetables to take home!”

Don’t be discouraged by the long wait-list. If you are interested in renting a plot, you can contact Jane at (530) 320-2109 or email her at communitygardens@cityofdavis.org.

Experimental College Community Garden

A sunflower brightens the Experimental Garden plot.

The Experimental College (EC) Community Garden is located on five acres of land at the UC Davis campus sandwiched between the UC Davis Student Farm Market Garden and the Domes on Orchard Park Drive. Over 250 members participate in the EC Garden at UC Davis. Don’t let the location fool you, the garden is open to the entire community, not just those affiliated with the University.

One of the unique things about the EC Garden is that it is completely student-run. Lauren Cockrell, a fourth year student at UC Davis studying Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, has been the EC Garden Director since her freshmen year in college. She currently works with several other student coordinators to help keep the garden looking its best and has helped increase the number of plots available to the community drastically over the past two and a half years in her position.

“My favorite part of being the director is leading the tours once a month when new gardeners get acquainted with the garden and get to pick out their new plot,” says Cockrell.

Most plots are 10ftx20ft and cost either $35 or $50, depending on their location. Work-trade agreements are also available – only 10 hours of communal labor provides you free rent! Rental periods start in March and last for one year.

In addition to having access to communal tools, mulch and manure, the EC Garden also has communal fruit and herb trees members are welcome to harvest.

Similar to the Davis Community Garden, there is a wait list. If you are interested in renting a space at the garden, get yourself on their listserv by emailing Lauren at ecgarden@ucdavis.edu. Don’t expect an email back, but wait for notifications for upcoming tours at least once a month to become acquainted with the space and picking a potential plot.

Gardening at the University of California, Davis

Students and campus community members have many options for community gardening experiences at the University.

Resident Garden at Segundo

Students living in the dorms can participate in the Resident Garden, located right outside of Segundo Dining Commons, anytime during the school year.

The Resident Garden at Segundo was founded by students through a partnership with various campus departments and administrators, including UC Davis Student Housing, UC Davis Dining Services, UC Davis Grounds and UC Davis Environmental Health & Safety.

Constructed in June of 2010, students have been growing strawberries, herbs, flowers and various vegetables in five raised garden beds.

To get involved, contact garden.coordinators@gmail.com.

Plant and Environmental Sciences Salad Bowl Garden

Join students in maintaining and harvesting the Salad Bowl Garden, located just outside of the Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES) department at the UC Davis Campus. The garden’s two small vegetable beds are loaded with lots of fixings perfect for a lunch salad!

The PES Salad Bowl Garden hosts planting parties and also salad bowl lunches throughout the academic year. The garden is free and open to the public and campus community. To get involved, contact saladbowlgardeners@googlegroups.com.

Solano Park Community Garden

Living on campus in Solano Park? Then get involved with the community garden! This is the garden often spotted adjacent to the Amtrak tracks as you are westward bound on the Capitol Corridor and is only open to residents at Solano Park.

Annual plot rentals are very affordable – $20 for a 15×50 foot plot of land with an additional $20 cleaning deposit. Members are also expected to provide a labor contribution during Garden Work Days. Gardeners at Solano Park Community Garden not only have access to communal tools and equipment, but also compost and mulch for their gardening needs.

Domes and Tri-Co-op Gardens

The students that reside in the Domes and Tri-Cooperate Housing communities at UC Davis keep immaculate gardens. Students and community members are often invited to join in on weekly garden parties at the various residences. If you haven’t been by the Domes Honey Bee Sanctuary garden, located on the north-west corner of the Domes property just off Orchard Park Circle, stop by and check it out.

Additional Resources:
Davis Community Garden – http://community-services.cityofdavis.org/davis-community-garden
Experimental College Community Garden – http://ecollege.ucdavis.edu/pages/10
Davis Wiki gardening page – http://daviswiki.org/gardening
UC Davis Resident Garden – http://dining.ucdavis.edu/sus-garden.html
PES Salad Bowl Garden – http://saladbowlgarden.ucdavis.edu/
UC Davis Solano Park – http://www.housing.ucdavis.edu/housing/apartments_orchard_solano.asp
Domes – http://daviswiki.org/the_domes
UC Davis Tri Cooperatives – http://www.housing.ucdavis.edu/housing/tri_cooperatives.asp
American Community Gardening Association – http://www.communitygarden.org

 

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