Santa Clara County
From a home garden to the dinner table, the County of Santa Clara and University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardeners want to give local residents tips and hands-on experience in how to grow fresh fruits and vegetables at home. This is part of an effort to help the community have better access to healthy foods. The County of Santa Clara’s first Edibles Garden and Waterwise Garden will be part of new classes in fall 2014 that feature sustainable approaches to residential food production and edible landscaping. Guidelines for low-water-use landscaping to help with water conservation efforts will be featured. Today, the partners celebrated both the grand opening and the UCCE Centennial Celebration.
“We are proud to celebrate the opening of the first Edibles and Waterwise Demonstration Garden at the County of Santa Clara,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese. “By helping residents learn how to grow their own produce at home, and how to create and maintain low-water-use landscaping, the County is taking another step in support of healthy, sustainable communities. This is especially critical as we face water reduction measures in Santa Clara County.”
The Edibles Garden area displays sustainable approaches to residential food production and edible landscaping, with seasonally appropriate vegetables and fruit. Demonstrating a set of horticultural “best practices” for home gardens, the raised beds illustrate the importance of proper soil preparation, trellising, staking, and efficient irrigation practices, as well as selecting plant species well-suited to the Santa Clara Valley. This garden also serves as a showcase for new garden varieties, cover crops, rare fruits, and flowering plants that attract beneficial insects.
The Waterwise Garden area follows guidelines provided by the Santa Clara Valley Water District for installing low-water-use landscaping. The previous lawn area was sheet mulched and replaced with a variety of plants—including many California natives—that once established, require only small amounts of water. As part of the water-saving effort, pop-up sprinklers were replaced with a drip irrigation system that delivers water directly to the soil with no evaporation or run-off. This responsible approach to water wise gardening is taught in classes and workshops offered throughout the community by UCCE Master Gardeners.
“We are pleased to offer these new approaches to gardening,” said Amy Brown, Director, Santa Clara County Department of Agriculture and Environmental Management. “Working collaboratively through the County’s Center for Leadership and Transformation, our team conceived the idea of offering a demonstration garden that can function as a hands-on teaching lab for county residents.”
The new County demonstration garden, located at 1553 Berger Drive, is one of 12 gardens around Santa Clara County maintained by 300 volunteer Master Gardeners, including gardens at Emma Prush Farm Park, Palo Alto Demonstration Garden (PADG), Eleanor Pardee Community Gardens, Sunnyvale’s Charles Street Community Garden, History San Jose, and Guadalupe Garden.
“The new County Demonstration Garden will provide an opportunity to educate Santa Clara County residents about sustainable, edible home gardening and water conservation practices,” said Sheila Barry, UCCE Director who oversees the Santa Clara County Master Gardeners Program. “These gardens will be used as part of a larger educational effort by UC Cooperative Extension to teach Santa Clara County residents how to eat healthier by growing their own food, while learning water conservation techniques for their own low-water-use landscaping.”
The demonstration gardens will be used by the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County for both public education classes and training experience for Master Gardeners. Master Gardeners, an organization of volunteers, support the educational activities of the University of California Cooperative Extension and promote horticultural education and service to the community.
The University of California Cooperative Extension helps to educate local communities and residents about preserving natural areas, farmland, and smart water-use strategies.
“UC Cooperative Extension is proud to partner with the County to open the demonstration garden and celebrate 100 years of university service to the community,” said Dave Campbell, Community Development Specialist, UC Davis. “This garden joins a network of demonstration gardens across California that promote healthy communities, build local skills, and help the environment by saving energy and water.”
Santa Clara County residents interested in participating in classes or in becoming a Master Gardener can visit http://mastergardeners.org/scc.html or call the Master Gardener Hotline at (408) 282-3105 for more information.