People & Community

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Saturday, Oct 27 2012 12:54 AM

Community: How does your garden grow?

By Alyssa Morones

The beauty generated by a garden does not come without work, but it is a beauty that extends beyond the aesthetic sense of the word.

Keep Bakersfield Beautiful is working to live up to its name with its recently implemented Community Garden Project, aimed to make gardens accessible locally and to help community members and schools with their gardens.

Related Photos

A Southwestern flame skimmer takes a short break on a piece of vegetation in Cesar Chavez Elementary School’s student garden.

The student garden at Cesar Chavez Elementary School includes an area filled with flowering plants that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds.

Joshua Ramirez helps separate leaves of aloe vera plants and prepare them for replanting in one of the garden’s greenhouses.

These gardens would not thrive without the hard work and long hours of individuals within the community.
The three gardens featured here highlight that.

Community garden, Fourth and Eye streets

The community garden on Fourth and Eye streets, spearheaded by Keep Bakersfield Beautiful with the help of a grant from Home Depot, has breathed a little more life into the surrounding neighborhood.

What were once three litter-filled vacant lots is now a distinguishable, fenced-in plot of land.

“There are so many different positive side effects to a community garden,” said Jessica Felix, community relations specialist for Keep Bakersfield Beautiful. “It helps with community-building and creating a sense of pride. It helps with safety, and deters illegal dumping.”

These effects are noticeable to the team working on the garden. Already, less litter is appearing in and around the lot.

“The energy around here is definitely shifting,” said Amber Beeson, local artist and founder of The Giving Tree garden growing project. “This area hasn’t looked this good in the last seven years and by next year, it will be a real garden.”

The garden is comprised of 20 8-by-14 foot beds in which community members can grow their own flowers or produce.

It functions as a test pilot for the Keep Bakersfield Beautiful Community Garden Project.

“We’re working to make setting up a community garden as easy as possible,” Felix said. “We want to make sure that creating community gardens is an accessible endeavor for all community members.”

William Penn Elementary garden

In a small area on the side of the school that was once filled with trash lies a growing garden, which Beeson continues to help grow.

When Beeson dropped her children off for their first day at William Penn Elementary School, she asked the principal if she could implement a garden project for the school.

The principal said, “Yes,” but getting started was a challenge, she said.

“But now we’re seeing progress,” she said. “It takes a village, but it also takes time. Now we have support pouring in from the school district. I see the school rapidly transforming.”

There are enough beds for all grade levels to have their own plot.

“The goal is to demonstrate different varieties of plants and produce that you can grow in a limited space,” Beeson said. “So even kids who live in apartments can have their own little garden.”

Cesar Chavez Elementary School Garden

The school garden at Cesar Chavez Elementary School is one that has flourished. After school, students in the science magnet program get to learn and work in the garden, where they are introduced to horticulture, conservation and recycling lessons.

While the garden grows in a small space on the campus, it includes butterfly and bird habitats as well as multiple themed gardens: a sensory garden, a recycled art garden, an Asian garden and a vegetable patch.

The garden is open for the entire school year, said Tricia Trevino-Woods, environmental horticulture teacher with the science magnet program. Teachers can use the garden to help with lessons in class or during lunch. Kids not in the magnet program can also take part in the garden or be a part of the horticulture club, she said.

“There’s a definite advantage to having an accessible garden in the school,” Trevino-Woods said. “It’s a great way for kids to discover and explore science. There’s a definite excitement among students to watch things grow.”

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