The popularity of the city's community garden has generated a long waiting list of possible gardeners who are eager to work the soil. If the sign-up list for plots is any indication, there are a lot more gardeners in Mountain View than there is space to accommodate them. There are now 84 plots being worked at the Willowgate community garden on Andsbury Avenue, with a long list that could result in a five-year wait for an opening to start gardening.
Now, as a result of the 1.22-acre parcel that the city recently purchased from resident Frances Stieper for $3 million, there is another possibility that a community garden, open to anyone who wants to pitch in, could be created amid the fruit trees already in place at the city's new holding at 771 North Rengstorff Ave. More people could take part in such a large garden, which could produce enough food to share.
An online petition calls on the city to support the community gardening effort, although it does not specify support for small plots over larger gardens, and large shared gardens could potentially involve many more people. The petition closed this week and was to be presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission Jan. 15, after the Voice went to press.
We hope the city can find ways to meet this renewed interest in gardening by local residents who lack a place to grow their own produce. After all, long before tech firms were the city's major industry, Mountain View was known for its orchards and extensive growing season. Although a dry spell has left some crops without adequate water, smaller plots are thriving due to the attention of gardeners who make sure every plant is getting quality care.
The city should assess its land holdings to see where small or even large plots could be set aside for one or more community gardens. Resident Kieran Gonsalves, who is promoting establishing a community garden on the Stieper property, told the Voice: "Studies have shown that with a community garden in a neighborhood crime goes down, neighborhood pride does up, people come together and talk about things of community interest. And they share," he said. All of these are positive outcomes that could contribute to a richer neighborhood experience for many more residents.
Another way to go might be a shared garden organized like a demonstration farm, such as Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale or Veggielution in San Jose. Both of these gardens are supported by nonprofit organizations.
With more than 272 signers by Jan. 14, the online petition should have received some attention at the Parks and Recreation Commission Jan. 15. We hope it ushers in at least the start of the city expanding its gardening potential to the Stieper property or to other unused property around town.