The Chinatown Community Garden (24,000 sq.ft.) is where a diversity of people come together to grow healthy food. Raised garden beds are adopted out by local neighborhood residents and organizations. Each person or organization who adopts a bed takes care of and receives the bounty of their own harvest. In addition, the Garden is where community members learn methods of sustainable gardening, natural building, and urban renewal. The garden’s green space is maintained by our dedicated Garden Steward, Javier Rodriguez and volunteers from the local community. Volunteer work days are from Tuesdays through Saturday from 9am to 4pm. The Garden was developed under the direction of the Service Learning Institute of California State Monterey Bay through a job-training program where low-income residents and currently homeless individuals built the Chinatown Community Garden turning an abandoned lot into beauty, nutritious food, and employment.
Where the Garden is located, no supermarket exists for people to obtain nutritious food at a reasonable rate. Outside of the Garden, Chinatown is a “desert” when it comes to fresh produce. In addition, many people in the neighborhood lack the means to travel to a supermarket at the other end of town and money to purchase nutritious food.
One of our Renewal Project aims is to increase the consumption of fresh produce in Chinatown. We do this through the production of fresh, organic produce in our Garden. The fresh organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs produced in our Garden are given away throughout our Chinatown neighborhood. Most of our distribution of Garden produce is conducted by Dorothy’s Place, a local soup kitchen ( 30 Soledad Street) across the street from our Garden. Dorothy’s uses our Garden produce in the meals they prepare and free boxes of food they give away to people in need. At Dorothy’s Place an average of 150 people a day are served free breakfast and lunch. Produce from our Garden is also donated directly to individuals who visit our Garden.
Our Garden has been a place where people learn about the cycles of life and death and decay and growth. For many people, working in our Garden means getting in touch with their “roots.” As one Garden crew member stated, we are “going back tribal in a concrete jungle.” Community gardens provide a valuable space in an urban landscape. It is a place where people can connect more with themselves, nature, and their community.