May Day March for Beach Flats Garden and Boycott Driscoll’s

The march drew connections between saving the local Beach Flats Community Garden and the global boycott of Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor, founded and based in Santa Cruz County.

[ Boycott Driscoll’s activists and supporters of the Beach Flats Community Garden demonstrate at New Leaf Community Market in downtown Santa Cruz to call upon the grocery chain to stop selling Driscoll’s berries. May 1, 2016. ]

In the spirit of International Workers Day, and in solidarity with the Beach Flats Community Garden and the boycott Driscoll’s movement led by indigenous farmworkers, demonstrators in Santa Cruz, California marched on May 1, 2016 from City Hall to New Leaf Community Market and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The spirited march drew connections between saving the treasured local garden and boycotting Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor, founded and based in Santa Cruz County since 1904.

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Beach Flats Gardeners Demand City Council Keep Their Promise

The City of Santa Cruz promised to seek acquisition of the land for a permanent garden, instead they bulldozed 40% of the garden to facilitate Seaside Company’s agenda.

[ Beach Flats Gardeners, including Don Emilio Martinez Castañeda (left) who has been cultivating in the garden since it began over twenty five years ago, lead the march up Pacific Avenue and they cross Laurel Street in downtown Santa Cruz. April 26, 2016. ]

Is the City of Santa Cruz Really Committed to the Beach Flats Neighborhood?

Gardeners and Supporters March on City Hall Demanding that Council Follow Through With Previous Commitment to Purchase Land

On April 26 the Santa Cruz City Council gave their six-month report on the progress of the City’s efforts to acquire the property containing the Beach Flats Community Garden. At the meeting, the City Council agreed to a three year lease for the garden. However Josh Brahinsky of the Beach Flats Garden Coalition points out, “The lease only covers 60% of the previous garden, and has a 60 day escape clause for Seaside Company, and thus does not provide long-term security for the garden.”

Students at UC Santa Cruz advocating for the gardeners and the garden declare, “It is time to turn up the heat! The city broke their agreements about protecting the garden, both in terms of space promised, and a bunch of trees and cactus that were demolished during Spring Break.”

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Hundreds March for Beach Flats Community Garden

Gardeners seek a creative solution to preserve twenty five years of cultivating food and culture in the heart of the Santa Cruz Beach Flats.

[ Photo: Marciano “Chango” Cruz (left) is a founder of the Beach Flats Community Garden. Cruz marches with Beach Flats Gardeners, including Don Emilio Martinez Castañeda (center) who has been cultivating in the garden since it began over twenty five years ago. ]

On February 9, hundreds of people marched through downtown Santa Cruz from the Beach Flats Community Garden to the city council meeting. Gardeners, along with a large coalition of supporters, are seeking a creative solution to preserve twenty five years of cultivating food and culture in the heart of the Beach Flats.

Over the past year, the gardeners have asked for community support, and when 4,000 people signed a petition and 200 people showed up to a city council meeting last fall, the city agreed to attempt to negotiate a sale with the owners of the property, Seaside Company, who also own the Beach Boardwalk and much of the rest of the Beach Flats neighborhood.

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Marching and Speaking Out to Save the Beach Flats Community Center and Gardens

The Beach Flats Community Center (BFCC) is the neighborhood resource center in the heart of the Beach Flats community. For the last 15 years the BFCC has provided programming that is flexible and continually responsive to emerging community needs.

With community support, the BFCC has steadily worked hard to increase the quality of life in the Beach Flats, increased parent participation in all programs, graduated over 190 children from preschool programs, provided a safe place for children, planted over 150 trees, promoted literacy, and can today boast to having 0 youth on probation in the neighborhood.

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“Chango” Recognized with “Marciano Cruz Day” on May 12 in Santa Cruz

Marciano Cruz was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. For over 20 years, Marciano, also known as Chango, has been working to improve the lives of people in the greater Santa Cruz community. He is currently a staff member at the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV). On May 11th, Marciano received the “Most Caring Coach Award” by USA Weekend, a magazine with distribution in 600 newspapers to 23 million households each week. He is being honored for his work as founder, chief organizer and president of La Liga de La Comunidad, a countywide soccer league for youth and adults.

On May 12th, Marciano was recognized with “Marciano Cruz Day” in the city of Santa Cruz and received a Mayor’s Proclamation from Ryan Coonerty during a celebration in the parking lot of the RCNV. Marciano was also presented with resolutions from John Laird of the California State Assembly and Joe Simitian of the California State Senate. In addition to his time and dedication to La Liga de La Comunidad, Marciano also enjoys surfing with his friends and helping kids learn how to surf safely with proper gear. The Beach Flats Community Garden, which is now blooming with new growth, began with the vision and dedication of Marciano and some of his friends from the neighborhood.

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Plan Presented at Second Meeting to Save the Beach Flats Community Garden

The second public meeting to save the Beach Flats Community Garden took place on April 3rd. At the meeting, the gardeners put forward a plan for the garden to be managed by the gardeners. Reyna Ruiz of the Beach Flats Community Center said that the plan was something that she could work with and present to the Santa Cruz City Parks and Recreation as well as the Seaside Company which claims ownership over the land. The gardeners asked Brent, a supportive neighbor of the garden, to accompany Reyna when she presented the plan to the Santa Cruz City Parks and Recreation Department on April 4th.

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Cleaning, Weeding and Tilling in the Beach Flats

At the Beach Flats Community Garden, Domingo was pulling weeds and tilling the soil in preparation for Spring planting.

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.

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