Community Gardens are Growing
Jun 01, 2016 09:38PM ● Published by Jennifer Neys
On April 4, the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Commission (PROS) moved to recommend the development of community gardens, community farms and/or urban orchards at Heather Farm Park, Arbolado Park and San Miguel Park.
The Community Gardens Task Force (CGTF) recently spent time turning community gardens in surrounding cities to review the various features and management models. The Task Force then established site selection criteria and evaluated seven potential garden sites, including: Alma Park, Arbolado Park, Heather Farm Park, Rudgear Park, Lar Rieu and San Miguel Park and Sugarloaf. The sites were then reduced to three based on amenities already existing, parking size location, high density housing, water and underutilized areas.
The top three sites were proposed to the community via a survey last March to get feedback and gather the community’s level of interest on this issue. The survey had over 400 responses with overwhelming agreement that Walnut Creek should have more urban agriculture and most respondents chose Heather Farm Park as the top location for a community garden. After an in-depth look at all factors, the CGTF recommended Heather Farm Park, Arbolado Park and San Miguel Park as the priority community garden sites with Heather Farm Park the initial community garden site. There is currently an existing relationship between the City and the Gardens at Heather Farm, which will provide a non-profit that is willing to manage the site. This community garden site is also surrounded by high density housing with amenities such as restrooms, parking and irrigation. This was the number one priority for both the CGTF and the polling results.
The Parks, Recreation, Open Space Commission recommends a phased in approach with Heather Farm Park as phase 1, using 50 plots and offering 5’ x 20’ and 5’ x 10’ size boxes. After some light grading, creation of pathways, planter box construction and other preparations, the time frame for community gardening would be early next year.
Phase two would explore Arbolado and San Miguel Parks. Both of these sites will need additional community outreach and site evaluations may be required to get a full understanding of the needs and impact to the parks. In addition, there will be further consideration of more parks for community gardens beyond Arbolado and San Miguel.
At the May 3 Council meeting, council approved the development of community gardens, community farms and/or urban orchards at Heather Farm Park, Arbolado Park and San Miguel Park using a phased approach.