Growin' in Lake County

My name is Taylor and I’m an AmeriCorps VISTA with NCO Gardens Project in Lake County. This is my first ‘real’ adult job and to be honest I really couldn’t think of a better one. Every day I get to help people become empowered to grow their own food and become capable of providing vegetables for themselves and their families.

At the beginning of my term of service I wasn’t really sure what to tell people I would be doing this year. When family members asked before I moved down here I would tell them I would be building community gardens to help address food insecurity. I wasn’t wrong – but I definitely wasn’t sure about the details or what exactly that meant I would be doing on an hourly basis. AmeriCorps VISTA members are capacity builders for the nonprofit projects they work for – but what did that mean? I had a good feeling about this position, and community gardens are one of my passions so I accepted the job without ever having set foot in Lake County, California.


Why kids should play in the dirt!

Gardens are not just good for food! Gardens are a great place for families and children and offer many benefits including peace of mind, health, science and math lessons. Vegetables are never better than when you grow them yourself; a sun-warm tomato will always beat out the one found in the grocery store. Studies have shown that kids who grow up with vegetable gardens are more likely to show interest in trying and eating different vegetables. When kids are involved in the growing process they are more likely to want to try the vegetables they are growing. Studies have also shown that kids that play in the dirt are less likely to get sick, because the friendly exposure to different germs boosts their immune system for later in life.


I know less than I thought

Guest Blogger: Holly Ordinans

She also has her own blog which you can read by clicking here.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, my experience with growing my own food is quite different compared to someone raised in California, specifically this northern region of Mendocino and Lake County. Before moving to Ukiah, I thought I had a pretty solid knowledge base about gardening—and I did! Gardening though, not farming, and not gardening to the extent that exists here. Growing up, my mom always had a backyard garden, and my sister and I learned a great deal from her about planting, watering, weeding, picking, etc. We always spend the summers eating what we grow. However, this is not at all common in Wisconsin. And it’s even less common to grow your own food year-round since the winters are so cold.


Meet our new Americorps member!

Myself, Cassie and our newest volunteer, Elizabeth, in the State St. Garden
Hi! My name is Natalie! I'm the new Americorps member here at the Gardens Project. After making the trek from the Midwest out here to the great state of California I am excited to explore life in Ukiah and be a part of the Gardens Project. I can already tell its going to be a busy year! I dove right in this past Sunday by helping out at the annual Homegrown Community Garden Tour -the perfect orientation to some of the beautiful community gardens here in town. I got to meet many of the great people who manage and work in the gardens and I am already looking forward to helping out with the next big event: Run the Ranch on September 30th. Ukiah is beautiful and I am looking forward to hiking, biking, climbing and exploring the coast here. Hope to meet you soon!

Fresh Americorps VISTAs!

Just off the vine, three AmeriCorps VISTAs have arrived at the Gardens Project! They are bright-eyed and bushy tailed and love cherry tomatoes. We present to you, beloved fans of the Gardens Project, Cassie, Lucy, and Kelly:

Cassie is our resident Southerner, from Sherman, Texas.. She recently graduated from Eckard College in St. Petersburg, Fl with a degree in Environmental Studies. Cassie is working with the gardens project, and also with Food For All Mendocino where she will be doing food stamp outreach. She is loving Ukiah, and is excited to be here for the next year. Cassie loves to garden, hike, and knit (she might even make you something if you ask nicely). And if you ever want to butter Cassie up, just bring her a nice cool iced tea...

Kelly is orginally from the South Bay Area, but has spent the last five years living in foggy Monterey and going to CSU Monterey Bay. She is excited to be working with the community, getting to know Ukiah, and helping to facilitate new opportunities for people to get fresh produce! She loves being outside, cooking, growing basil, and playing with her puppy dog, Max.

Lucy is also from the Bay Area. She spent her college years studying economics in seasonal Maine, and after a few long winters had a bad itch to get back to the West Coast, the scratching of which plopped her down in Ukiah with the Gardens Project. While not gardening, Lucy likes to ride bicycles, have adventures, dance, read, dehydrate pears, and try her durndest to cultivate goodness.

We will be working our zucchinis off this year to help make the community gardens in Ukiah, and the local food economy, stronger and more sustainable. Currently, we are whipping up some winter vegetable education and sowing the seeds of greater community involvement. We have all kinds of plans and ideas for the next twelve months, and would love to hear from you and work with you! We look forward to seeing you out there. Long live the gardens!


The Real Dirt

Sign up to keep up with what's growin' on
around Mendocino County and Lake Counties!