Laurel Gardens Apartment Complex
The installation at Laurel Gardens Apartment Complex had 15 participants. Participants included the on-site case manager and activity coordinator from Caminar, a nonprofit agency that works on supporting individuals and families to move towards resilience, wellness and independence. Attendees also included residents of the apartment complex and Sustainable Solano volunteer network. The installation took one day.
Prior to the installation, there were four meetings with residents, case management and the building manager. In order to maximize the engagement on this site, we had several outreach activities, including an informal presentation on the project during their Christmas Party, a guest speaker who talked about gardening in small spaces, meetings where we answered questions or concerns about the garden and meetings where we asked what kinds of fruits and vegetables they would like to plant and see in the garden. A big concern for them was the safety of the garden because the only site that worked was a high-traffic zone.
Results and Impact
As the meetings progressed people started to warm up to the idea of a garden. While not all concerns about the safety of the garden disappeared, they were content with moving forward. We were able to allay concerns about the garden by explaining a little about permaculture principles and how the garden was based on an ecosystem that after a couple of years would be established and need less upkeep.
The result was a group of residents who worked together to install a garden. Participants for this installation included children and their parents, creating a family activity. Additionally, there was excitement about the possibility of getting fresh produce for the monthly birthday celebrations that the activity coordinator spearheads.
This garden might also lead the way for future garden partnerships with Caminar, and their client network, who are traditionally underserved.
Over the next five years this garden will create at least 660 pounds of food, which is about 550 meals.
Gardens in apartment complexes are unique in different ways. For starters, more than just a couple of people need to be interested. As such, engagement from residents needs to be a priority and having someone from the administration interested in this project is also very important. Potential designs from other apartment complexes that have successful gardens is also important.
Building managers and maintenance should be included in conversations about the installation of the garden from the very start. Including them will ensure that any concerns they have about the garden can be answered in a timely manner. This rapid response will ensure that any contracts that need to be signed will be done in time. If any apprehension from administration about liability should arise, like the garden being a tripping hazard, it helps to walk the site with your garden designer and problem solve as the issues arise.
Lastly, residents of the apartment complex might be differently abled and might suffer from different mental and physical limitations. If this is the case, it is important to create an environment where they feel welcomed and are able to participate.
Learn more about this project in the video below.