Want to help your kids get closer to the earth? Why not have them get down and dirty, doing work in it? Community gardening is a great way for families to nurture their own plot of green. Along the way, kids experience the pride of growing their own food from seedling to vegetable. And that same sense of pride just might convince them to eat more of the community-grown goodies. There are hundreds of communal gardens around the Bay to dig your hands into – here are a few to help you get planting.
The Fort Mason Community Garden came into fruition in the 1970’s, when the San Francisco Art Commission came together to bring gardening to public school children. Nestled in the bluffs of Fort Mason, the garden is one of the largest in the city, boasting 125 plots. However, it’s also one of the most popular, with a 4-year waiting list. Check with SFGRO, the San Francisco Garden Resource Organization, to find an available plot in an SF community garden near you.
Marin & North Bay
The North Bay Children’s Center in Marin helps kids learn how to plant and harvest fruits and vegetables in the Garden of Eatin’. Founded with the goals of teaching self-sufficiency and fighting childhood obesity, the Garden of Eatin’ has several program sites throughout Novato and Petaluma. An application and tuition fee is required. Gardening plots can also be adopted; by contributing money, you’ll help the centers stay active with physical education, nutrition, and gardening classes. Contact David Haskell, Director, at 415-883-6635. Through the Marin Open Garden Project, neighbors meet every Saturday to exchange excess produce from their gardens. Many participants are part of the community gardens in Mill Valley, San Rafael and San Anselmo.
The Marston Campbell Community Garden on 18th and Market Street in Oakland is just one of many East Bay community-based gardens that welcome and encourage neighborhood kids to participate. The garden sprouted with the help of the non-profit group, Oakland Butterfly and Urban Gardens (OBUGS), which teaches children about recycling, nutrition, gardening, and cooking. The City of Oakland’s Parks and Recreation Department has a community gardening program . Other East Bay resources include the Berkeley Community Gardening Collaborative, City Slicker Farms , and Berkeley Partners for Parks.
—Renee M. Rutledge