Cleaning, Weeding and Tilling in the Beach Flats

At the March 27th meeting to discuss the Beach Flats Community Garden, Reyna Ruiz of the Beach Flats Community Center passed out flyers encouraging people to “spend the day outside making the neighborhood beautiful” by participating in a Community Clean-Up (Dí­a De Limpieza en La Comunidad) on March 29th. Some people lent a hand or two by picking up trash throughout the neighborhood and other folks gave their time to beautify the Beach Flats Community Garden. Everything was going really well until Reyna arrived at the garden insisting that everyone stop gardening until the next meeting about the Beach Flats Community Garden on Thursday, April 3rd.

Poets Park Community Garden, a round area next to, but much smaller than, the Beach Flats Community Garden, has five available gardening plots, of sixteen plots total, that are scheduled to be raffled off in a lottery on April 4th. Gardening Interest Forms are hanging from the fence surrounding the plots and people are asked to write why they would like to garden at Poets Park. On March 29th during the community clean-up, the plots were utilized by a young boy who watched as his dog ran around the barren plots.

At the Beach Flats Community Garden, Domingo was pulling weeds and tilling the soil in preparation for Spring planting. Jeremy, a writer with City on a Hill Press, came to the garden to work on a story for the paper. He feels that most UC Santa Cruz students are unaware of the garden, but will be very interested in supporting the special community space if they learn about it. Jeremy was asking me questions and wanted to interview me for the article he was working on. We talked for a couple hours as we pulled weeds together.

The dynamics of the day shifted tremendously after Reyna showed up to tell people that they could not sew seeds or plants, which was not being done, and that people could not even pull weeds and pick-up trash until a meeting was held on April 3rd to discuss the future of the garden. However, there was no agreement or understanding, as a result of the meeting on March 27th, to not work in the garden until April 3rd. Everyone present at the garden felt that it was ridiculous for Reyna to insist that people not work the land.

If the garden is significantly improved between the March 27th meeting and the one on April 3rd, then it will be very difficult for either Reyna of the Beach Flats Community Center or Carol Surich of Santa Cruz City Parks and Recreation to claim that the garden is too large to take care of and manage.

Reyna eventually left the garden and Jeremy followed behind for an interview. People continued pulling weeds, picking up trash and tilling the soil. It felt great to work in the garden and contribute to the community. A plot that was basically covered in weeds and scattered trash is now much closer to being ready for cultivation.

I noticed bean pods hanging off the fence and I began collecting the amazing seeds. Jesus looked at the nice seeds and asked if they were for my garden. I told him no, they were for the Beach Flats Community Garden and asked if he wanted them. He thanked me for the kind offer, informed me that he already has those varieties, and told me that I should keep them for my plot in the garden. At this point, I am caring for the rebellious seeds and hoping that we, as a community, can nourish them together in the Beach Flats Community Garden.

The next meeting is on April 3rd at 5pm at the garden. People who can make a long-term commitment to support the Beach Flats Community Garden are needed and especially encouraged to attend the meeting.

For more information, please visit:
Beach Flats Community Garden Threatened

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