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UC MG Outreach: Los Medanos Community Garden

The Story of Los Medanos Community Garden

It Was a Grand Day for the Community, by Jane and Craig Wirth, UC Master Gardeners

On an unusually mild East County summer day, August 14, the Los Medanos Community Health District (LMCHD) hosted the grand opening of its Community Garden on a half acre fronting Leland Road in Pittsburg. Approximately 70 people were in attendance with many expressing how impressed they were with the garden. Pittsburg Mayor Sal Evola and Councilmember Nancy Parent attended the opening ceremonies as did Pittsburg Unified School District Trustees Vincent Ferrante and Dr. Willie Wong. Marilyn Condit, the LMCHD Board representative on the garden’s organizing committee, presided over the brief program. LMCHD Executive Director Bobbi Palmer and other Board members were on hand to cut the ribbon as were representatives of the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations.

Youth from the STS Academy in bright blue t-shirts received recognition and compliments galore. This special group of young folks affiliated with Riverside High School applied skills and knowledge they learned in UnderConstruction, to build the first phase of the project.

One of the most impressive things about the garden is the groups and individuals who will be tending the 18 raised and 10 in-ground plots. Some of the individuals come from nearby apartments and are anxious to grow food due to financial challenges. Some plots will be tended by groups, such as the “Heart to Heart” organization, a branch of Child Protective Services that works with families in stress. They will be bringing these families to work together in the garden as a way to heal. Other groups that will be tending their plots on behalf of their programs are the local WIC program and the LMCHD’s own Diabetic Care Program.

Kudos go to UC Master Gardener (UC MG) Janet Miller (2008) who gave an engaging presentation on growing a winter garden. Folks from as far away as Byron and Discovery Bay appreciated the information she shared. Among the eager learners were veteran gardeners who had learned vegetable gardening from their Italian grandmothers but felt that Janet’s presentation had given them important new knowledge. Also enhancing the day were UC MG Lisa Bramblet (2008) and her daughter Rebekah, providing seeds donated by Renee’s Garden, soil, planting assistance, and answers to questions. We can’t thank all three enough for their addition to the successful event. Also, it should not come as a surprise that our president, Harriett Burt, was there to lend a hand and her enthusiasm to the event.

The warmth and friendliness of all who came was evident as refreshments were shared. Of course fresh fruit and vegetables were served…what else?

Just Before Los Medanos Opening
It won't be long before winter vegetables will be growing in the raised beds of the new Los Medanos Healthcare District/City of Pittsburg Community Garden. Shown here before local residents and gardeners came to celebrate the August 14 grand opening and to hear UC Master Gardener Janet Miller (2008) give tips on how to grow winter vegetables, the joint project was actually built by members of the STS Academy, a Pittsburg group of high school students and young adults who work on community projects in Bay Point and Pittsburg, learning basic construction and mathematical skills while producing useful projects for community residents.  Photo courtesy of Jane and Craig Wirth.

It should be noted that while the UC Master Gardener program contribution to this garden will principally be education, the garden’s establishment owes a great deal to Jane and Craig Wirth who answered a request to attend the Pittsburg Planning Commission meeting on the subject and as a result became the local “people’s choice” to serve on the steering committee. Jane and Craig’s enthusiasm, knowledge and hard work were very important to the successful development of the garden.  --Harriett Burt, Past President, UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County