Saturday July 10, 2010
Bayer Neighborhood Park & Gardens
1550 West Ave., Santa Rosa
(view my Flickr photo album)
I am a fairly new member of Rotary Club of Santa Rosa West and my club does something special. The club has for the last two years provided new members or “Red Badge-r”s the opportunity to take a $1000 stipend and either donate it to a cause or turn it into something more. The first year this was done an event to fundraise for a program called Dogs for Diabetics. (I will talk more about their upcoming July 17 soon). My team has decided to support the Bayer Neighborhood Park & Gardens which is commonly known as Bayer Farm. We visited the site to get a better feel for what they do. (stay tuned for an announcement of the way my Red Badge team will support the farm)
Community gardeners, currently 37 families, maintain 34 plots as well as the common land. It sits on City of Santa Rosa land and will eventually be turned into a public park. The city provides the water and compost setup while LandPaths is the organization that operates the endeavor. The main goal is providing a chance for urban families to experience nature by maintaining their own gardens, education, and supporting the neighborhood.
Community gardeners must agree to perform a predetermined amount of volunteer hours before being assigned a plot, pay $20 per year as an honorarium, and continue to participate in maintaining the community grounds. There is a waiting list but thankfully it isn’t too long.
Redwood Empire Food Bank runs a Free Summer Lunch Program Monday-Friday 11:30-1pm in the summer, feeding an average of 80 children a day.
It has a teaching & demonstration garden and workshops are taught where one can learn various things like how to plant a winter garden (upcoming Aug. 21 and I WILL be attending). The cost for the workshops are on a sliding scale, approx. $20 at the top end. They are hoping to incorporate cooking classes soon. The produce that is a result of the teaching garden is sold at the Bayer Farmstand right on site August-October.
Friday events are a community party. Aztec drummers, food, families, pumpkin carving in season, puppet shows and more. They partnered with KRCB on Tom Sawyer Day with many small town activities for the kids including a treasure hunt and three legged races.
Several nearby schools have educational relationships with the farm. Curriculum has been developed and provided to teachers so that they can bring their classes to the farm on their own, if desired. Educators are also encouraged to use the farm for lessons other than gardening. If they can think of ways to teach math, science, languages and more using the space, bring it! The Girl Scouts and 4H have many days spent in the sun, working on the land. 4H is donating the produce from their plot to the farmstand. High school kids are able to log in their required volunteer hours working at Bayer. Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) even get their kids that are staying in the shelter out of the house and into the therapeutic work of gardening in their plot.
The greatest need Bayer Farm has is the money to pay for the operating costs of the program as well as the salaries for the employees it takes to make everything run. They also have something unique, Magdalena, LandPaths’ Bayer Farm Outreach Coordinator. She is bilingual and that is absolutely necessary in the neighborhood that Bayer is located in.
If you have a recession/victory garden, are part of the slow food movement, love sustainability, your community, are locally minded, want to fight obesity, raise awareness about the importance of getting back to the land and feeding our brothers good food, please visit Bayer Farm. You will fall in love and want to romp the grounds like a little kid. And I promise I won’t tell anyone if you climb the big tree.