Nearly 15 years after a local group of gardeners started petitioning the city for more community garden space, their goals will be met at the corner of Latham Street and Shoreline Boulevard.
The newly developed Latham Community Garden offers the opportunity to grow plants in a dedicated space and nearly eliminates the city's yearslong waiting list for a plot.
The plots -- raised beds about 6 feet wide and 18 feet long -- are filled with a potting mix, according to Kristine Crosby, recreation manager for the city of Mountain View.
The Latham garden, which Crosby said cost $280,000 to design and $649,000 for construction, will expand Mountain View residents' ability to grow their own food and connect with other gardeners.
"Our gardens have built community within them. We look for every opportunity that we can to build community," Crosby said.
The Latham garden will offer ADA-accessible plots, she said. In March, the City Council agreed to adjust the fees for the three city-owned community gardens, with some slight increases. The senior garden fees are increasing from $43 to $50 annually at both Latham and Willowgate gardens. Willowgate offers two options, with the larger plot fees increasing from $139 to $150, and the smaller plots priced the same as Latham.
Gardeners at the Willowgate Community Garden started petitioning the city for another community garden in 2004, when the waiting list was upwards of five years. Now, with the addition of the Latham garden, city officials say that they have found a plot for nearly every resident who applies.
Residents seek out gardens for a number of reasons, according to Marcie Fein, a Willowgate gardener who has been active in the gardening community since 1993. For some, gardening is an opportunity to be connected with food and for others, a reprieve from the busy day-to-day life of Silicon Valley.
Gardeners tend to their plots year-round, and as they watch spring change into summer, so does the composition of their plots, bursting with tomatoes, raspberries, zucchini or strawberries. "Starting with a seed and having your homemade tomato sauce in the pantry is just utterly delightful," Fein said.
Gardens are spaces that have the potential to bring together people of all different backgrounds, though Fein believes that the rising housing costs in Mountain View have contributed to the reduction of diversity in community garden members.
Haile Asore, a Willowgate community gardener of 15 years, says that the garden is a kind of sanctuary for him, and that gardens in general say something about a community's culture and values.
The use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers is prohibited at Mountain View community gardens, and other than marijuana, gardeners are free to plant what they wish. Any excess produce from the community gardens, which are funded by the city and managed by the recreation department, gets donated on a regular basis to the Community Services Agency, said Crosby.
The Recreation Department hosts annual garden meetings and events, such as the tomato tasting at the Willowgate garden.
Although the opening of the Latham garden was delayed due to construction issues with the fence that will encircle its 84 plots, the garden is scheduled to officially open on Friday, Aug. 16. A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony is set to start at 10 a.m. at 650 South Shoreline Blvd.
To be added to the waiting list for a plot, send an email with your full name, mailing address and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about the city's community gardens is online at tinyurl.com/Garden-plots-mv.