By John Earl
Surf City Voice
Surf City’s first community garden—organic and pesticide free—may be opened for use before Labor Day, according to David Baronfeld, president for the Board of Directors for the Huntington Beach Community Garden.
Baronfeld made the announcement at a community meeting at City Hall on Wednesday, May 19.
Baronfeld and others have worked tirelessly for the past eight months to come up with the concept—modeled after the Long Beach Community Garden, which started 25-years-ago—and language for an agreement between the city and Southern California Edison, which owns the land that will be used for the garden.
Baronfeld sees the garden as a beautification project and puts it in the same category as a public library or other city service.
“The purpose of the community garden is both recreational, hobby, [and] educational,” he said, adding that it would give people, who are struggling in the current economy, a chance to grow fruits and vegetables that they otherwise might not be able to afford.
The community garden will cover 2.5 acres of land divided into 84, 15 by 20 foot lots. The lots will be leased out on a first-come first-serve basis until all 84 are reserved. Then a lottery will be set up for the next available lots.
Ten lots are reserved for disabled people and are located nearest the entrance for greater ease of use.
The garden will be open to Huntington Beach residents only and for non-commercial purposes—businesses cannot lease the plots. Strict rules and security measures will be implemented. Daylight hours only will apply and members will need a card-key to unlock the gate and enter.
There is an initial $10 application fee and a yearly rental fee of $100 that covers the city’s cost for water and supplies.
Forty residents have signed up already and Baronfeld is delighted by the response:
“To have 40 members of the community come together, when it’s not been advertised or promoted at this early stage, really gives us the belief that we will have 84 plots leased by the time we get it in the ground, and no later than Labor Day.”
The garden will be located on the corner of Atlanta and Brookhurst, under heavy power lines. There is no expected danger, but the soil will be tested anyway and organic top soil will be brought in for the first stage, Baronfeld said.
There are 80 community gardens in southern California, 18 of which are in Orange County. Costa Mesa has two community gardens; Seal Beach and Garden Grove each have one. That makes Huntington Beach one of the last cities considering a community garden, according to Baronfeld.
“But what makes that exciting is that with state of the art technology, if you will, with organic, pesticide free soil, I think that we’re going to have a model community garden once we get it going,” he said.
The long-term goal of the Huntington Beach Community Garden committee is to have multiple community gardens throughout the city.