Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.
Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a
Community gardens have a long and honorable
history. In this century alone, they have
surfaced on a large-scale nationwide basis
during both World War I (In 1918 "War Gardens"
produced a crop valued at $520 million) and
World War II (Victory Gardens).
What is a Community Garden?
A plot of land owned by the city, a non-profit
organization, a company, a homeowners
association, or a generous private owner, is set
aside for the use of nearby residents on a
community basis. Community gardeners work
together to prepare the garden, set up a
watering system, work the soil, and determine
the location of individual plots. Group
purchasing can reduce the cost of seeds, tools,
fertilizers and other necessities.
Individuals "lease" their own plots, frequently
at no charge, occasionally for a nominal $10-$25
year fee which goes to support the program. They
receive all the food grown on their own plot,
although the group may have an arrangement to
set aside a percentage of the crop - perhaps 10%
- to be sold at farmers markets on behalf of the
entire project, or to be given to food banks or
Community gardens are in place throughout the
country. One of the best known is Seattle's
"P-Patch" program, which has over 1700 plots on
16 acres of gardens used by over 4500 urban
gardeners. Special programs serve low-income,
disabled, youth and non-English speaking
populations. These organic gardens provide 7-10
tons of produce to Seattle food banks every
year, and many more tons for the people who work
Would this work in the Napa Valley?
It already does. The City of American Canyon set
up a community garden five years ago. The
two-acre garden is used by as many as 35 people
each year to grow flowers and vegetables. The
standard plot is 6' x 12' and costs $25 per
year. This covers use of the land, water, and
the city's tilling and preparing the soil each
Condominium developments in Napa and Yountville
also have community gardens, maintained by
members of their homeowners associations, and
the City of Calistoga is considering the idea.
The city of Napa has small vacant lots or
little-used patches of city property that could
be used for such a purpose. Members of the local
"Master Gardeners" group are ready to offer
their expertise and guidance to such a project.
And local garden shops would likely contribute,
either with seeds and tools, or with discounts.
- Helps people who may be in poor financial
circumstances produce at least some of
their own food
- Provides healthy and nutritious food
- Provides the satisfaction of working the
earth and growing one's own food
- Brings members of a neighborhood together
- Develops skills that will last a lifetime
- Provides an opportunity for people of all
ages to work together
- Provides an opportunity for senior citizens
to pass on their gardening skills to