By Claire Harlin
A 180-square-foot community garden, made possible by a grant from Home Depot and the group effort of many in Eden Gardens, is becoming a reality with produce expected as early as this fall.
The garden, situated in the property of St. Leo’s Mission, at the corner of Ida Avenue and Genevieve Street, will have eight to 10 plots that are each 4 to 8 feet in size. The garden will also have on-site irrigation and a lockable shed.
While produce from the garden won’t be sold at local markets and stands due to St. Leo’s tax restrictions, the food will be used at the church and made available for personal use through a community lottery, said Manny Aguilar of the La Colonia de Eden Gardens Foundation. Aguilar is in the process of finalizing plans with the city, due in part to the fact that the garden will extend onto the public right of way.
Aguilar said the garden is being installed for educational purposes, with a large focus on Eden Gardens youth. In addition to traditional organic gardening, the community garden will incorporate aquaponics with the help of Encinitas resident Sue Spray. She has made an art of the technique, which involves the fertilization of plants living in a soilless growbed with the waste of fish living in an attached tank. The plants and fish live off of each other just like in a natural, balanced ecosystem and, in the end, the system produces both healthy fish and produce to consume.
“It’s a wonderful tool that brings all the components of science together in an educational manner,” said Spray, a local veterinarian. “It teaches kids how to raise food economically and feasibly with no herbicides or pesticides. It’s a wonderful system for kids interested in science, or if they aren’t it may spark an interest.”
Spray is currently monitoring the garden to be installed in Eden Gardens at her own home. She said it takes a while for an aquaponic system to become balanced and stable. The community garden flat will contain both goldfish and koi, Spray said, in addition to leafy vegetables like kale, lettuce and spinach, as well as tomatoes. She may add tilapia in the future.
Aguilar said the community has come out in full force with a big interest in volunteering, so volunteers are not needed at this time. For more information, contact Aguilar at (619) 672-5872.