Sebastopol’s Skatepark and Community Gardens finally opened after many years of hard work by many members of the community.

Garden boxes at the Sebastopol Skatepark & Community Garden

Garden boxes at the Sebastopol Skatepark & Community Garden

The park occupies a small parcel of Laguna Parkway, adjacent to the Northeast Area currently under planning for future development. I applaud the results and so far, a lot of young people are enjoying the skatepark — I imagine my son will want to use it when he’s a bit older. The community garden is tucked into the back of the park and it, too, will be used, but I wish that more space were available for gardening. Each of the fourteen plots is a 2 ft. high box approximately 4′ x 8′ and they are arrayed on the slope above a sculpture and gathering area.  There may be low enough demand for gardening space from residents without their own space, but I think it would be great if money could be found to purchase the vacant lot to the west of the park for additional garden space.

Neighborspace

The front yards of most homes in my neighborhood have no fences, but nearly all have side and back yard fences. Our house is one of the partial exceptions because we’re located on a corner lot and have had trouble with dogs in our garden, so we decided to rebuild our front yard fence when the old one fell down. The majority of the lots were developed in before World War II and they are typically on the smaller side, so the houses — even though they are mostly smaller by current standards — take up a significant percentage of the lots, leaving limited open space around them. Our house sits on one of the tiniest lots in our neighborhood and has only a 4.5 ft. side lot (which happens to be located at the back of our house because it is officially oriented 90 degrees off the actual constructed orientation); our neighbor’s house was built in the 1970s and should have had a greater setback, but it is even closer to the lot line.

Until recently, our side yard was a weedy mess full of an invasive ornamental onion, Bermuda grass, salisify and nasturtium. The Bermuda grass and nasturtium tended to find their way under our siding and I would regularly find long runners running into the crawlspace and even into the attic. The view from our kitchen window was less than inspiring and our neighbor’s bright yellow siding made for a lot of glare as well. We knew we needed to do something, but couldn’t decide on a good way to screen our view without losing the only daylight to the kitchen.

I had wanted to turn the neglected space into some sort of garden or at least something other than an invasive weed patch, but hadn’t done anything about it until the high price of produce prompted our neighbor to ask about gardening there. Within a short time (and a lot of hard work), I took up all the weeds, including every bit of Bermuda grass root that I could find.

Neighborspace Garden

Neighborspace Garden

I also pulled out assorted broken bricks, glass, old nails, pottery, etc.  A border to make a level bed, some path mulch for walkways on both sides, and compost for the plants completed the job. We’ve split the bed in half for now, with squash on our end and chard on our neighbor’s end. Later we’ll probably put more raspberries on our end. Though the new garden doesn’t get full sun — especially from mid-fall through early spring — there’s enough reflected light to keep plants reasonably happy and productive.

Once this little garden gets going, we’ll encourage our neighbor to turn her thirsty front lawn (purely for decoration) into more garden as we did. I don’t know that we’ll be able to share too much across our lots due to their respective layouts, but we’re both happy about new neighborspace.

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