A good meeting at the Yanonali Community Gardens – Low Calorie Diets Tips

By Chauncey Gardener

What a difference the passage of time makes! About a month ago, Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation held a meeting with the gardeners at the Yanonali Community Garden. It seemed close to a ‘them’ versus ‘us’ and everyone was probably displeased, if not, some upset and annoyed.

At least that’s how it was for the gardeners: It was a question and answer session in which the gardeners felt addressed and not heard. We Yanonali gardeners have no way of knowing what Staff was thinking; Parks Director Zachary sat to one side and said nothing. Council members Jordan and O. Gutierrez were also present, looked at the charts, asked no questions for us, and appeared to be staff members. Although the proposed location of the fence was symbolically moved, the good feelings we felt after speaking to Parks & Rec. Deputy Liaison Councilor Sneddon and Mayor Rowse were all but extinguished.

Among all the words “want”, “can’t”, “must” the basic question was simple: who owns the community garden? P&R appeared to be acting as if they owned the community garden, just a portion of the overall Yanonali Park that they controlled and managed. The gardeners seemed to think that the garden belonged to the gardeners, most of whom are from the bike and pedestrian area.

The truth lies in between: The community garden is owned by the city, predates the park, and along with the only other community garden, Westside’s Rancheria, is part of the neighborhood’s shared heritage. P&R managed; Gardeners object that the garden is a seemingly secondary part of the park, secondary to the desires for “adult exercise devices” that dictate where the garden’s western boundary fence should be positioned, and which gardeners believe should have alternative locations there or at least could be pulled back.

The meeting was scheduled to start at 11:30 am; Gardeners gathered from 10:30 am hoping to combine face-to-face and email communication and find a unified approach. We were encouraged by a recent email from senior speaker Rich Hanna, Recreation Manager for Parks & Rec. (There is no senior garden and plant specialist; maybe there should be?)

His email tone and words were different this Saturday: “This will be a conversation we’d like to have…” All beds as suggested, costly and needless to grind, we pointed out: “We’re open to it.” Discussion on Saturday” (and) “It might be worth considering…” to note down positive and useful ideas; and “We look forward to discussing on Saturday”.

Hooray for talking _to_, not us! and so the conversations before the meeting were optimistic and consistent, although coming from people of different backgrounds and gardening skills: we like it the way it is, the 10 x 20 plots, and so did the presentation that followed. One of the three options considered is no change. Which of the three, 10 x 20, as now, with some smaller plots; the garden is not razed to the ground; The gardeners’ years of work and $$$ for the soil are not destroyed, uprooted. Main trails will be made more accessible, ADA compliant; and there will be opportunities for mulch and compost; The road-like access on the eastern edge, which is truck-wide and takes up valuable garden space, has been abandoned.

The only point that is still a problem: the old lemon tree will fortunately be in the garden, but only 6″. The tree is a symbol of the community garden, probably there since the garden began in the 1970s, tended by gardeners, not all feel so strong, but those of us who don’t understand why the trail and exercise equipment couldn’t spare a few more feet of realignment.

Rich Hanna said they will come back to us in about three weeks with plans that include Saturday’s discussions. Later there will be details on when the work will be done, when the locks will be replaced, what is urgently needed and any other relatively minor details. We look forward to moving on: Since October there has been a strain on the Yanonali Garden that now seems to be easing.

As one gardener said Saturday afternoon, “It was a good meeting!”

—Due to release time, this has not been shared with all gardeners and may not represent what everyone thinks. Parks & Leisure conducted two polls, one for the entire Yanonali Park (111 responses); and more recently the Community Garden survey (67 responses) here.

Seems appropriate: “It is the long history of humankind (and of the animal species too) that those who have learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin


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