Natural Perspectives: Community garden start grows nearer

Vic and I are excited to report that the reality of a community garden in Huntington Beach is drawing ever closer. On Wednesday, the membership of the community garden group is meeting at 7 p.m. at the Lake Park Clubhouse at Lake and 12th streets to assign garden plots.

Unlike the now defunct community garden that used to be at Goldenwest College, the planned garden at the end of Atlanta Street is a partnership between the city of Huntington Beach and the Huntington Beach Community Garden group. The land is owned by Southern California Edison. All that is needed is for the city and Edison to come to an agreement on how much the city will pay to lease the land. We're expecting that the agreement will occur later this month.

Interest in a community garden has been high, and the original 77 plots were reserved very quickly. With another 27 people already on a waiting list, the garden committee redesigned the layout to accommodate 110 plots. That means that there may still be a few plots available.

The majority of the plots will be 15-by-20-feet, but a few corner half-size plots are also available. The fee for plots is $100 a year, plus a $100 deposit that is returned when a gardener gives up his or her plot and leaves it in a good, weed-free condition. The fee for smaller plots is less than for full-sized plots.

The mission of the garden group is a good one. Their purpose is to educate people about organic gardening, as well as to provide an area where people can grow fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs for their own use and for local food banks. Members will be encouraged to plant a row for the hungry and donate food to local charities. In these uncertain economic times, that is a worthy mission.

Many of the garden club members are elderly, unemployed, under-employed or disabled. This is a group of people who are the least able to financially support the installation of the new community garden's infrastructure. That's why the group needs the help of the whole community to get this garden up and running.

I've been working on both the operations and fundraising committees of the garden group. The closer we get to opening, the more detailed the operations plans become and the more finely tuned the budget gets. We will need $60,000 for materials and labor to get the gates of the garden open to gardeners.

I'm pleased to report that both fundraising and in-kind donations are going well, and we've raised about half of what we need. By postponing a few of the tasks and doing a lot of the labor ourselves, we can pare down that budget a bit. But we still need another $10,000 to $15,000 to get the garden to the point where people can begin planting.

The land will need to be cleared of gravel and weeds and disked. We need to get city permits, install a backflow valve and the irrigation system, and buy hoses. We also need to move a chainlink fence that blocks access to half the planned garden area, and install a chainlink fence to separate the garden from existing yards that abut the garden area. These are essential tasks. The group also plans to build several compost bins and benches, and provide raised beds for each plot. We want to provide two storage containers and gardening tools as well. All of this is going to take money.

Our primary fundraiser is sale of memorial bricks that will be used in the construction of a handicapped accessible pathway. These are laser engraved with a choice of three lines of text, maximum of 20 characters or spaces per line. The bricks come in four attractive earth tones, and are available in two sizes, 4 inches by 8 inches, and 8 square inches. The laser engraving makes permanent black letters on the bricks, and the writing really stands out on the lighter-color bricks. Small bricks sell for $100, and the larger bricks, which will accommodate a corporate logo, sell for $250.

The garden group is also offering sponsorships at the $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 levels. If you would like to buy a brick, or would like to initiate a discussion of sponsorship, call our treasurer, William Clow, at (714) 968-9292 or President David Baronfeld at (714) 536-7890.

The annual operating expenses will be covered by plot lease fees from those who garden there. But this is only the first of several community gardens that the group plans to open around town. We'll be in fundraising mode for quite some time so we can open a community garden near you.

If you would like to get on the waiting list for a plot (and possibly even get one this coming gardening season), you will need to join the community garden group. To do this, write a $10 check payable to the Huntington Beach Community Garden and send it to HBCG, attn. William Clow, at P.O. Box 5891, Huntington Beach, CA 92615. Only residents of Huntington Beach are eligible for plots.

We can't get growing until we raise the funds that we need to get the garden infrastructure in place. Please help us make this dream a reality. Thanks for all that you do for our community.

VIC LEIPZIG and LOU MURRAY are Huntington Beach residents and environmentalists. They can be reached at

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