The future site of the Mesa Harmony Garden
Paul Wellman

What was once a plot of untapped potential will now become the site of the Mesa Harmony Garden, a project conceived by SBCC students and Holy Cross Catholic Church. The project has three objectives: to grow as much food as possible to distribute to the hungry; to teach the benefits of sustainable living; and to organize and encourage community involvement. And the project needs your help.

Mesa Harmony Garden is in the running to receive the $10,000 RainBird “Intelligent Use of Water Award.” The nonprofit organization needs your vote (visit this Web site) to secure the grant, which will be used to complete the planting process and built cisterns and a water-gathering system. Techniques will be borrowed from ancient Mayan and Chinese practices as well as modern Permaculture methods in order to use the least amount of resources possible.

The garden project is currently in first place at roughly 450 votes, with the first runner up at approximately 390 votes. Voting is open until March 2011.

The Mesa Harmony Garden will be located on the corner of Meigs Road and Dolores Avenue

This “food forest” will be located on the corner of Meigs Road and Dolores Avenue. With a projected number of over 300 trees and plants to be placed in the 1/2-2/3 acre plot of land, the goal of the garden and the grant is avoid use of any city water. It is also expected to be chemical-free and organic.

Prepping the Mesa Harmony Garden lot for planting

“We are so excited about our project,” wrote Randy Saake, deacon at Holy Cross and secretary/treasurer for the Mesa Harmony Garden. “We never expected it to take off so fast and have such an impact on so many people,” he wrote.

Thus far, the garden project has hooked up with the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County and Ryerson, Master and Associates to receive funds in order to purchase approximately 80 trees. The different types of fruit — varieties of peaches, nectarines, plums, and apples — are to be planted in December, according to Saake.

The deal between the Mesa Harmony Garden and the Food Bank’s Backyard Bounty program means that the Food Bank will be able to harvest the crops from the garden, says Saake.

All food coming from the garden will be donated to local agencies, including the Backyard Bounty program, in order to feed those in need.

When asked of his long-term goals for the garden, Saake says he would like to see it become an educational tool for homeowners, students, and businesses, or a model for future food gardens — basically a blueprint on how to make the best of unused land.

Community participation is strongly encouraged in the planning and development of the Mesa Harmony Garden.

“Any time we’re able to feed people with healthy food is certainly a benefit, not just for the Mesa, but citywide,” says Saake. “We’re just really amazed at how things are coming together, just a random group of strangers putting this together in a short amount of time.”


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