Saturday, March 12, 2011

New ideas on Latona

Thirty-six volunteers converged on the heart of Bayview today to weed their ways through areas of the Quesada, Bridgeview and Latona gardens. Special thanks go to Captain Tyrone Pruitt and the San Francisco Black Firefighters' Association and to all the young people their work in the community involves.

The day included an informal gathering on Latona Avenue at Thornton where volunteers and residents shared food and talked about life on Latona. A new consensus plan for the existing garden and the Thornton Steps began to emerge.

Latona Project Leader, Rita Collins was introduced to neighbors. She spoke about her activity in the garden, so far, and some ideas she has for future work. Lydia Vincent, Bayview Koshland Fellow, presented a quick overview of a collaborative project focused on an arts treatment on the Thornton Steps which run along the side of the Latona Garden. This project is being organized by Lydia with Koshland, QGI, Art 94124 and other groups.

Rita announced that Quesada Gardens has five free backyard gardens to install in the coming months, and that the involved Quesada neighbors have offered them to their friends on Latona. Contact Rita for more information.

Participants shared these suggestions about possible changes to the existing Latona Community Garden:
We could use a new raised bed box. One suggested putting it in the middle to create a group of beds that can be protected from dogs.

We should move the box just inside the gate back further to make entering easier.
To control the fennel we have pulled several times, we need to use weed-killer that disperses quickly without leaving residue except localized residue that kills the roots.

We should improve the fence alongside the steps and make it look consistent with improvements to the steps and garden.

Encampments on the lot on the side of Thornton opposite the existing garden may require action beyond the garden and steps projects.

Littering and trash dumping is hard to keep up with and should be addressed in some way.

We need signage, especially facing 3rd Street that says “Latona Community Garden.” One neighbor used a Chicago garden art-sign made from metal as an example.

We should get more businesses involved, especially as donors of funds and materials.

We should have a bigger event like a BBQ that Latona residents organize to get more involvement on the block.

Education will always be an important of anything that happens at Latona. For instance, we can keep picking up trash, but will have less trash to pick up if people learn how to use the 3-color bins.

One resident living very near the garden has serious allergies/asthma issues, and hopes that new plants will be food or non-fragrant florals. She is interested in maintaining an herb garden to grow medicinal and kitchen herbs, and is open to working with others who may have health issues that herbs can help with.

One participant suggested keeping the garden locked with a combination lock which only residents involved with the Latona Garden have the combination to. This would lessen the amount of maintenance necessary, help with food safety, and be a barrier to nuisance crime. Other participants worried this would make using the garden informally difficult, be a barrier to the involvement of youth on the block and folks from 3rd Street who eat lunch at the garden, and could send the wrong message about the nature and purpose of the project.

Developing letterhead/logo for the Latona project could be useful, especially with fundraising. Jeffrey promised to share the logo done by the last organized Latona Group in case it is still useful.

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