Did you know that Mountain View historically was a farming community? Did you know that until the middle of the twentieth century, agriculture was the primary industry?
There are still over 33,000 acres of farmland in Santa Clara County, but things have changed a lot since then. There are no longer vast tracts of untouched land, and the existing developed land is expected to house more and more people. As the city undergoes rapid urbanization, it is important to create and maintain public spaces that represent the city’s roots and history. Gardening allows for self-sufficiency, builds healthier communities, and teaches our youth skills for future generations.
Today you still see many hints of our agricultural heritage. You see it in our fantastic year-round Sunday Farmer’s Market. You see it in the success of Willowgate Community Garden. Willowgate’s members yearly donate thousands of pounds of produce to the Community Services Agency, which in turn provides fresh, local, and organically grown produce to our community and families in need. And you see it in so many of the small backyard homesteads and front yard gardens of existing residents.
New residents moving to the area appreciate a beautiful year-round climate favorable to growing all kinds of fruits and vegetables. But the increasing number of people on a fixed amount of land puts precious open space, and privately-owned yard space, at a premium.
One solution to this problem is shared urban garden spaces. Urban gardens work by creating a shared garden space that is built and maintained by volunteers from the community. The fruits of the garden are shared with the community and amongst the volunteers. Gardens provide a venue for sharing of skills and for families and people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved. Kids learn the process of how food comes to them and the effort behind the final product. They create an opportunity for partnerships with local schools and surrounding organizations and businesses. From a public health perspective, these collaborations facilitate teaching opportunities about food and nutrition that keep people active and able to lead healthy lives.
Examples of this concept in our local region include Veggielution in San Jose, Gamble Gardens in Palo Alto, Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale, and the Gilroy Demonstration Gardens in Gilroy.
It is in this spirit that Soil&Water was formed. We are a group of residents who are working to create an urban demonstration garden space within Mountain View. We are currently engaged with the City and local groups to realize this vision. We are sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Mountain View and the Los Altos Community Foundation.
We want to say a big warm welcome to so many of the new residents that signed up to support this project at our Spring Parade information booth. Welcome to all of you. If you are interested in getting more involved in this project, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org This is a great opportunity to create more public garden spaces within your neighborhood and community, to exercise those creative design skills, and a chance to give back to your community through volunteering.
(If you feel like you may have read this article before......you're right - This article was published by me in the February 2014, Volume 26, Number 1, Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association Newsletter, www.omvna.org)