Community gardens are a great opportunity to connect residents within a city or neighborhood. That’s been happening a lot over the past several months, since San Leandro 2050 opened its volunteer-built community garden.
Located at Bethel Community Church, the garden draws people from all over San Leandro to learn dig into gardening together, doing something tangible to improve air quality in their city. Volunteers have done sheet mulching, planted seedlings, installed drip irrigation, and built planter beds.
Every plant that’s added to a garden absorbs carbon dioxide, while simultaneously releasing oxygen.
The garden has hosted several events since it opened last October, including a workshop presented by Rob Bennaton an urban agriculture advisor with UC Cooperative Extension about improving soil quality.
More recently the garden hosted a native plant day in collaboration with Homegrown Habitats San Leandro. The event drew about 35 community members, who learned how native plants support biodiversity in healthy ecosystems.
Then everyone dug into a garden bed and filled it with native plants, including Manzanita and California Lilac to attract pollinating bees; and checkerbloom and narrow leaf milkweed to attract butterflies.
Fun fact about milkweed: It’s the only host plant for monarch butterflies, and they must eat the plant's leaves in order to survive and grow into full butterflies!
Carol Bardoff, a Homegrown Habitats volunteer who helped organize the event, loved seeing how immensely everyone was enjoying themselves while planting. At one point, she noticed a man “who said he hadn't done much gardening before seemed utterly filled with glee,” “and after he finished with one plant he eagerly asked for another one.”
Participants went home with oak seedlings and milkweed seed, so they could add native plants to their own yards.
SL2050 loves seeing the garden becoming a hub for community connection and learning. Any members of San Leandro are welcome to be involved and all the events hosted are free!
The vegetables that garden volunteers planted in late October are starting to sprout, and these vegetables will also be available to members of the community who may not otherwise have access to affordable produce.
Want to learn more about the community garden and join us at future garden events? Sign up for email updates on our Get Involved page!
Eleanor Riley is a senior at San Leandro High School who’s interested in pursuing a career in environmental studies, and hopes she can write public policy that protects our environment and natural resources one day.