By Jazzmin Ballou, Solano Gardens Program Coordinator

Jun 26, 2023

The Solano Gardens program is recognizing its garden champions this summer — those people who make community gardens a success, paying attention to what makes them thrive. This blog post is from the quarterly newsletter to garden champions, and we wanted to share it with our wider SuSol community as well!

The garden expansion project at Fairfield Community Seventh-Day Adventist Church

The expansion of the garden at Fairfield Community Seventh-Day Adventist Church was planned at the end of 2022. Due to an unprecedentedly heavy rainy season, the workdays were pushed off time and time again, landing us at two install days at the end of April. After months of anticipation we were able to knock it out with the help of SuSol team members and the wonderful SDA champions.

The Seventh-Day Adventist Garden was originally installed in summer 2022. The church sits on a plot of land across from a large field that at the time was empty. The church community is very active and community oriented and just so happens to have several seasoned gardeners in it! With about 10 champions and even more people willing to learn how to garden by doing, they decided to start a garden so they could grow food for their church and surrounding community. One of the main champions and driving forces of the garden, Nichola, said “I have a passion for gardening and I continue to do it because people in the community appreciate it and it gives me joy to see the high productivity of the garden and the impact it makes.” Without Nichola’s constant communication and dedication this expansion may have never happened. Thanks to Nichola, there will be much more community appreciation coming the gardens way as the trees begin to bear fruit and enhance the ecosystem they are a part of.

With such capacity and community involvement we were able to make SDA one of the biggest gardens in our network! Currently there are 12 rows that fit about two rows of plants each, and they grow the most food of any of our gardens and qualify as our second largest garden by square foot. Last year they grew two rows of just tomatoes and were barely able to harvest any because the residents in the neighboring apartments were also eager to eat their fresh, organic tomatoes! They also love to grow bok choy, leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce, okra, and cantaloupe.

The expansion stretched their garden closer to their parking lot, where we planted a row of fruit trees to border the lot along with some pollinator plants and nitrogen fixers. We then added irrigation along the row of trees and their companion plants, and finished with an arbor that will soon be the home to some vines growing fruit, such as passionfruit. As the trees age and grow they will provide shade in the lot for some cars and peaches, figs, and pears for the community. This is our first food forest expansion of this kind and we are so excited about its success. Solano Gardens is open to expanding more gardens as the garden communities and capacities continue to expand as well.

Solano Gardens is funded by Solano Public Health