NCO’s Garden Project is raising beds and funds — help grow the future of local food

The group is holding a crowdfunding campaign to build three new gardens and more.

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MENDOCINO Co., 4/5/18 — If you’ve ever seen a community garden around Mendocino County, whether it’s in the backyard of a school, senior center, or part of a local park, chances are it’s part of North Coast Opportunities’ Gardens Project, which manages 48 different community and school gardens around Mendocino and Lake Counties.

Right now, the grant funding that has supported the Gardens Project is running out in a couple months, and so the group needs community support to keep building gardens until they are able to secure more funding. This month, the Gardens Project is holding a “Growing our Future” crowdfunding campaign to raise $17,000, and organizing events and work days at different gardens around the county, so there are plenty of ways to get involved.

The Gardens Project started eleven years ago, and this year the volunteer gardeners produced over 14 tons of produce on land that was previously unused or paved over. This food feeds more than 3,000 people each year with locally grown fruits and vegetables — which is a big deal for the one in six people living in Mendocino that don’t get enough to eat. Many local families, seniors, and veterans depend on food from the Gardens Project as a way to access fresh healthy produce, relax, and build community that is affordable and close to home.

The money will go to create three new community gardens, which if completed will bring the total to 50 in time for North Coast Opportunities’ 50th anniversary. The funding will also “be used to build new raised beds in existing senior gardens to provide access to garden space for those with limited mobility, fruit trees to
expand garden offerings, and a greenhouse so gardeners can grow their own plant starts.”

You can donate to the campaign at this website; more information is in the press release below.

The events, taking place throughout the month of April, include a variety of ways to help out and learn out about gardening:

  • April 6th, Highlands Senior Center in Clearlake, 10 am-4 pm: Help build weed-whacking and mulching
    pathways while cleaning the garden for spring!
  • April 13th, Willits Community Garden, 10 am -3 pm: Join a drip irrigation workshop led by expert Chris
    White of DripWorks from 10 am until 12 pm. A workday to install drip irrigation will immediately follow
    from 12 pm – 3 pm. Dripline for this workday has been generously donated by DripWorks.
  • April 14th, N.Oak Veteran’s Garden, 10 am -2 pm: Lend a hand to this developing garden to complete
    the perimeter fencing, finish installing irrigation, and continue getting the garden ready to be planted.
  • April 14th, Project Garden Box, 10 am -2 pm: Help distribute soil and garden boxes to fire survivors in
    Redwood Valley.
  • April 21st, Middletown Garden Celebration, 10 am-2 pm: Join the Gardens Project to celebrate Earth
    Day with garden tours and a garden planting ceremony at the Middletown Community Garden during
    Calpine’s Earth Day Celebration.
  • April 22nd, Rivino Winery 3 pm-7 pm: Celebrate NCO Gardens Project with dance, drink and play
    featuring the talented Clay Hawkins! Proceeds will benefit the Gardens Project.
  • April 28th, Highlands Senior Center Garden celebration, times to be confirmed – Join the Gardens Project
    for a morning full of garden tours, mini workshops and scavenger hunts!

For more information about the Gardens Project Lake County contact Ava Ryan at [email protected], 707-994- 4647×131. For more information about the Gardens Project Mendocino County contact Sarah Marshall at [email protected], 707-462- 1958. Learn more by visiting the Gardens Project Facebook page at  or the website. Learn more about NCO and the 50th Anniversary by visiting www.ncoinc.org or by calling 707-467.3200.

Here’s the full press release:

Access to fresh, healthy, affordable food is a right that many people take for granted, and yet, for many families it is a luxury. Many do not have reliable access to enough food, partly because they cannot afford it. 1 in 5 people in Lake County and 1 in 6 people in Mendocino County lack access to fresh, healthy, affordable food. Many people in Lake and Mendocino Counties experience hunger at higher rates than the national average because these rural areas have high unemployment rates, lower-wage jobs, and lack transportation to reliable food sources.

The Gardens Project of North Coast Opportunities, Inc., (NCO) seeks to relieve hunger and inadequate nutrition throughout Lake and Mendocino Counties by creating access to community-based food production and local, nutritious food. In the 11 years since its founding in 2007, the NCO Gardens Project has established 48 community and school gardens throughout Lake and Mendocino Counties. Gardeners are currently growing 28,470 pounds (more than 14 tons!) of organic produce to feed over 3,000 people each year on land that was previously vacant, underused, or paved over.

In addition to providing a space to grow food, the community gardens have proven their power to transform grief, daily annoyances, and hardships into beautiful friendships, stronger communities, and healthier people. Three devastating years of fire have left Lake and now Mendocino County residents struggling with current stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. The NCO Gardens Project Manager Ava Ryan believes that gardens can bring a sense of peace, claiming that, “research shows that working in a garden setting can bring healing for these conditions. Community gardens have been shown to promote relief from acute stress. Sometimes simply viewing greenery on a daily basis can help make life’s day to day struggles more manageable.” Community gardens also promote the social connections that are vital to individual and community health. In a 2017 survey of NCO’s community garden members, two-thirds of the gardeners said that working in the garden decreased their stress and anxiety levels, while 53% reported increased wellbeing, and 47% reported stronger social connections.

The NCO Gardens Project relies on government grants and community fundraising to continue to expand and sustain their network of gardens. With a USDA grant ending in August 2018 and future grant funding still in the works, the NCO Gardens Project is once again turning to crowdfunding to raise the money they need to keep building gardens. On April 2nd, 2018 the NCO Gardens Project will launch the “Growing Our Future” crowdfunding campaign to raise $17,000. Donate at http://bit.ly/2Gc8KQD. The money will be used to develop three new community gardens, bringing the total to 50 gardens which correlates to NCO’s 50th anniversary, occurring this year. Funds will also be used to build new raised beds in existing senior gardens to provide access to garden space for those with limited mobility, fruit trees to expand garden offerings, and a greenhouse so gardeners can grow their own plant starts.

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