WHAT'S GROWIN' ON
IN LAKE & MENDOCINO COUNTIES


Coast Garden Leaders on the Rise!



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Eighteen Garden Leaders from thirteen gardens along the Mendocino Coast and Willits area gathered to network, learn from each other and build the movement for an accessible, sustainable food system! The gardeners represented a great diversity of gardeners and communities within Mendocino County

Co-hosted by The Gardens Project of NCO and the Noyo Food Forest on the Coast, the goal of this three year program is to train community gardeners to share, organize, lead, and continue to build the movement for expanding and sustaining spaces for community and school gardens.

The Leadership Program is a component of NCO Community Action successfully receiving a USDA Community Food Projects grant to train community leaders in food production and work to alleviate poverty through re-building our local food system.

The group will meet every six weeks in Fort Bragg with each meeting focused on a different theme such as effective leadership, garden advocacy, market opportunities and growing community. Meetings are co-facilitated by Gardens Project coordinator Miles Gordon, Gardens Project and Noyo Food Forest staff.

This year's cohort represent the following gardens:Stone Soup Family Garden, Senior Kitchen Garden, Fort Bragg Grange Community Garden, Ecology Action Garden at Stanford Inn, Mendocino, Caspar Community Garden , Noyo Come-Unity Garden, Redwood School Rainbow Garden, Dana Grey School Garden, Fort Bragg Middle School Garden, The Learning Garden, Fort Bragg High School, Willits Charter High School Garden, Brookside School Farm, and the Willits Community Garden.

For more information about this year's Leadership Training, contact The Gardens Project or The Noyo Food Forest.

North County Garden Leaders Graduate


Year Two of the Garden Leadership Training program concluded on November 18th with a celebration of photos, plans for the future and of course, cake!

15 Garden leaders from Willits, Laytonville, and Covelo spent the last ten months strengthening community, building leadership skills and sharing hopes, triumphs, tips, challenges and delicious meals with each other.

The goal of this three year program is to train community gardeners to share, organize, lead, and continue to build the movement for expanding and sustaining spaces for community and school gardens. The Leadership Program is a component of NCO Community Action successfully receiving a USDA Community Food Projects grant to train community leaders in food production and work to alleviate poverty through re-building our local food system.

The group met every six weeks at the NCO Willits Action Group offices and each meeting focused on a different theme such as effective leadership, garden advocacy, market opportunities and growing community. Meetings were facilitated by Gardens Project coordinator Miles Gordon and other Gardens Project staff.

The group's final venture of the year was a PhotoVoice project in which Garden Leaders documented their experiences by taking photos of their community members at work in the gardens. These photos, with their interpretations, are being compiled into a traveling exhibit so look for them around town or view them online now!

Now that year two has been brought to a close, Garden Leaders from the North County have chosen to continue meeting as a Garden Leadership Council next year without facilitation by the Gardens Project. The Gardens Project will be moving onto year three of this three year program by starting the same training cycle with gardeners from the Mendocino County Coast this January. The training will be hosted by the Noyo Food Forest and facilitate by the Gardens Project of NCO.

To learn more about Year One and Two's journey through the Leadership Training Course, read all of the Leadership blogs.

Local Families Plant Nutritious Winter Gardens


This community garden story is told from the perspective of Steph Logsdon, our Community Healthcorps Service Member.


On October 9th, members of the Thunderbird apartment complex in Ukiah learned about nutritious winter crops to plant in their gardens.

When Highway 101 ran through Ukiah years ago, Thunderbird was a motel. Now, Thunderbird is a low-income family apartment complex in which most of the residents are Latino/Latina. Some are more recent immigrants from Mexico and most adults speak little English. The mothers of Thunderbird requested to learn more about nutritious crops they could plant to feed their children outside of the traditional Mexican crops they already knew so well. This summer their gardens produced bountiful crops of tomatoes, corn, tomatillos, peppers; gardening is no new thing for them.

I myself speak only the bare necessities of Spanish, but with the lingual help of Americorps FIRST 5 VISTA, Ligia Lopes, and my co-worker at the Gardens Project, Caitlin Morgan, we were able to have a successful workshop.

For our workshop, I prepared information sheets on planting and care for Broccoli, Cabbage and Collards in Spanish and brought 72 green plant starts to share. After the greetings of “hola!” and “como estas?” we went ahead and started the workshop. First in my broken Spanish naming the vegetables with a poor accent, “Brócoli, Repollo, Quelites!” and saying other English things in which Ligia and Caitlin translating for me, we had the residents read from the Spanish hand out I gave them, learning together about how to care for the plants.

I thought maybe one person would volunteer to put a few plants in their garden to show everyone else and then we’d leave the starts for them to plant when they were ready. No, they all got it done right there. Everyone went straight to their garden plots and started digging and loosening the soil right away. Within 15 minutes, most all of the 72 plants that we brought were planted in their garden beds. Only those participants that didn’t live right there took plants home with them.

Their enthusiasm and readiness to get the veggies into the ground was inspiring. We barely had enough time to evenly divide up the plants between everyone there. One woman and her child rode the bus to come to our workshop, and there was one non-Hispanic man with his daughter who spoke English that had just moved into the complex that attended as well. Thankfully I had one copy of the planting care still in English for him! All the children around spent their time coloring pictures of cabbage, pumpkins and other vegetables and were proud to show off their art.

I didn’t realize how much I could communicate with people by smiling, saying “Si!” and “Bueno!”… over and over and over again. I am overjoyed that the families at Thunderbird take such pride in growing their own food. Even though I couldn’t actually have a Spanish conversation with them (yet, I’m trying to learn), being there with them motivated me to try and learn more for next time.

Interview with Kim Morgan

Alicia Interview.MPG

We're in the process of posting all of our old gardener of the month videos up on our website. Check out each garden site to see the people who make Ukiah a healthier, more self reliant community! Below is one of our favorite interviews with South Ukiah Head Start volunteers. Cheers to all who are making the movement happen!

Gardener of the Month: Genaro Vega!


Congratulations to our first Gardener of the Month: Genaro Vega! At The Gardens Project, we know Genaro as The Chili Man, for his knowledge and cultivation of different varieties of chili peppers. Genaro is also the volunteer coordinator at the largest and oldest community garden in Ukiah – the Cleveland Lane Community Garden. To witness the tremendous work Genaro dedicates to this garden and to hear him speak of his respect for chili peppers is truly inspirational. The Gardens Project interviewed Genaro one afternoon and, unsurprisingly, he offered some valuable insight into the world of Ukiah community gardens. To watch the interview, click here.

Do you know someone who should be our next Gardener of the Month? Nominate them! Contact us and tell us why you think they deserve be highlighted.

To see pictures of the Cleveland Lane Community Garden, click here. To see Cleveland Ln. in person, visit it! It’s located behind the Grace Hudson Museum. Here is a map.

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