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The People's Produce: A Guide to California's Community Gardens
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The People's Produce: A Guide to California's Community Gardens

Grow your own produce and connect with your neighbors at some of the urban community gardens in California’s major cities.

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5 min read

January 26, 2023

Fresh herbs lie tiered in a vertical garden while rows of carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and melons mingle in the raised beds. All of this—and more—can be found in a typical community garden. Home to so many high-rise buildings, apartment complexes, and industrial mainstays, cities across California are developing community plots for the numerous benefits they provide. These gardens reduce the carbon footprint, support better health, and unite neighbors. 

The popularity of community gardens resulted from the World War II “victory gardens”, which led to a large production of locally grown produce. This idea was eventually introduced in urban areas where residents could rent community garden plots annually, and the concept has been spreading ever since.

With California’s biggest cities—including Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Francisco—attracting new residents daily with coveted job opportunities and beautiful scenery, the need for community gardens has become clear. Community gardens are the only way many city dwellers can participate in gardening and gain access to fresh produce. While there are dozens of community gardens across the state that you can get involved in, some notable urban gardens in California’s major cities include the following.

Los Angeles Community Gardens

Getting involved in a community garden allows local residents to get to know one another and bond over a shared experience.

Oak Park Community Garden

Established in 2003, Oak Park Community Garden originally aimed to promote gardening in California, namely in Oak Parks. If you have ever wondered how to start a community garden, the Oak Park community garden is a great example. Ultimately, it is a joint effort of community involvement and a question of finding the right sponsors.

Oak Park Community Garden now serves as a fantastic place where people can relax and enjoy the outdoors without traveling long hours to find some greenery. There are also special events held throughout the year to upkeep the spirit of the garden community.

Community gardens enable urban-city dwellers to grow their own produce and learn gardening techniques, all while connecting with their neighbors.

Ocean View Farms

Ocean View Farms came to life in 1977 when a group of people showed interest in growing fresh produce on a hillside in West Los Angeles. It is administered by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and has over 300 gardeners that work 500 garden plots. This beautiful community garden strives to unite local residents and educate people about the importance of organic growth and green spaces.

Working with plants will bring you satisfaction and joy.

Main Street Community Garden Santa Monica

Welcome to the oldest and largest community garden in the area, built back in 1976. Every gardener can plant and grow whatever they desire, so long as they follow the guidelines the city has put in place. 

This community garden is quite lively, as every 2nd Saturday of each month, the Main Street Gardeners open up the gates from 9 AM to 11 AM, letting residents visit the gardens and admire them at their leisure.

Wattles Farm Organic Community Garden

An organic community garden located in the heart of Hollywood, Wattles Farm Organic Community Garden has been around since 1975. It has been serving the locals for years, allowing them to grow their own food, work with organic plants, and bond and indulge in activities with other like-minded garden communities. Memberships allow you to become a farmer and participate in gardening activities with many other green-thumbed locals. 

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SAN FRANCISCO COMMUNITY GARDENS

Community gardens give a chance to all residents to dive into the wonderful world of gardening.

Brooks Park Community Garden

Giving a chance for all residents to dabble in the wonders of gardening, Books Park Community Garden is a beautiful place to start your journey. This garden offers opportunities to volunteer and grow ornamental plants and produce for personal use. Individual pots are available after signing up for the waitlist. These pots are found in specific gardens dedicated entirely to volunteers, where you can share perennial herbs, fruit trees, and native plants.

Fort Mason Community Garden

Fort Mason Community Garden is located in the heart of Fort Mason, nestled away in a densely populated urban area. As you go through the gardens, you will stumble upon different community members, each living in their own world. Artists painting away the incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge, family friends munching on delicious meals at the picnic tables, and gardeners tending to their plants and produce. It is a wonderful experience to see so many people gathered within the same space, enjoying the magic of a community garden

A terrific way to bond with other locals is surprisingly heading to a community garden!

Potrero Hill Community Garden

Currently operating under the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, Potrero Hill Community Garden welcomes any resident to sign up for their gardener membership for some planting fun! Established in the 1970s, the community garden now has 51 plots and common areas; all maintained and looked after by gardeners of the city who make use of nothing but organic methods. 

Potrero Hill Community Garden is a beautiful place to wander in, with views of the Mission, Twin Peaks, and more. The Mediterranean climate also allows for many different types of plants and produce to be grown, from fruits and vegetables to ornamental plants, which include the Dahlias (the official San Francisco flower).

San Diego Community Gardens

Ocean Beach Community was built around the desire to help the Earth; why not drop by?

Ocean Beach Community Garden

The roots of this community garden go way back to when they were planted in the late 1970s. The residents of Ocean Beach were convinced that the future of Planet Earth rested on humanity’s shoulders, so they started this wonderful community garden in San Diego. Since then, it has grown and matured and is now a place everyone can benefit from. The 50 organic gardeners cultivate vegetables, fruits, and flowers for personal use and to share with the community. 

Golden Hill Community Garden

Established in 2004, Golden Hill Community Garden is located within the iconic Balboa Park. Yet another charming community garden where you can share your love of gardening with your neighbors and other locals. Memberships have an annual cost of $50 a year. Once you have become a member, you can participate in the Garden membership meetings held on the first Saturday of each month

While meal-delivery kits have made fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs more accessible to those living in food deserts, their price points aren’t feasible for everyone.  Creating community gardens provides an excellent and inexpensive solution for eating organic, nutritious foods. Along with promoting better health, community gardens serve as a place where locals can come together, empower one another, and join the movement to support the local environment and improve air quality. 

Check out the American Community Gardening Association to get more information about starting a community garden in your town or where to find one near you. Once you have a community garden plot, you can focus on designing and maintaining your garden and supplementing your yield with local goods from the farmer's market. Happy planting!

Disclaimer: California.com is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products or services mentioned in this article.




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