NOVATO COMMUNITY GARDEN
July 22, 2017 ANNOUNCEMENT:
For the past 10+ years we've been working with the City of Novato to get a community garden built. Although we overcame many obstacles and met all the City requirements at the O'Hair Site, the City decided not to proceed with the garden at the O'Hair site. We are disappointed that another year has gone by with no garden. But, we are encouraged working with new Novato City staff who are dedicated to seeing the community garden happen. A new site is being considered at the recently acquired Lieb Property off of Hill Road.
Join Us: Novato City Council to Vote on July 25, 2017
Please join us Tuesday, July 25 at 6:30 PM at the Novato City Council Chambers to give your support to the Novato Community Garden Project.
Location: Novato City Hall Council Chambers at 901 Sherman Avenue. We are on the agenda at 7:05 PM - time is not exact. Please try and arrive by 6:45 PM. Click here to see the agenda and supportive documents.
Why This New Location Rather Than the O'Hair site: Please scroll down to read the section titled: "We Had a Site" and "What Happen to the Site?" to get an overview of what transpired these last few years. It includes PDFs of letters we've sent to Novato City staff and City Council members.
YOUR SUPPORT: We are asking the community to come to speak to the council to inform them that: (A) you would like to see a community garden in Novato that is open to the public, and (B) the recently acquired Lieb property off of Hill Road across from the Margaret Todd Senior Center is an ideal site. If you have been following the community garden project for the past 10+ years, you are aware there have been a lot of obstacles that we've removed and we also met all of Novato City requirements to build a garden at the O'Hair site off of Novato Blvd. Unfortunately, we met two major city obstacle that we could not overcome. If you'd like to learn more of the history check out the other pages on this website.
NOVATO COMMUNITY GARDEN MEETING - August 16, 2017 @ 7PM:
Join us on Wednesday, August 16 at 7:00 PM for a Community Meeting to get an update on the status of the garden. We will discuss pass efforts, the current status of the project, and what need to be done to build the garden. Meeting Location: Home of Veronica Valero at 50 McKeon Court, Novato (cross street Center Rd, near Wilson). Please RSVP: email@example.com or 415-897-2302.
BOARD MEMBER UPDATES (7/22/2017):
COMMUNITY GARDEN - OUR HISTORY - WHAT WE'VE DONE:
To learn about our journey, the process, the challenges, visit our Press page.
To Learn more about our goals and visions, click on the documents below. Please note: these are old documents and they note that MarinLink is our fiscal sponsor. MarinLink was our fiscal sponsor until 2012 when we officially became a 501(c)(3) non-profit. To learn how to donate to our organization, please click here to see our Helping page.
THE DREAM: A community garden is a place where people who have no access to sun-drenched soil, can plant, grow, nurture, and harvest organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. A community garden is also a place where the community spirit can grow. It's a place where a diverse group of people can share, learn, teach, encourage and connect with each other and the land.
WHY A COMMUNITY GARDEN? We are fortunate to live in Marin County, surrounded by open-space, Mediterranean-like weather, and fertile soil where we can grow our own food or purchase it from local farmers. Even with our abundance, nearly half of our residents in Novato live in multi-unit dwellings without land to garden. In addition, there are a growing number of residents who cannot afford to buy fresh produce to feed themselves or their families. A shrinking economy and rising unemployment are putting the squeeze on many of us. We urgently need to find new ways to access healthy and affordable produce.
A recent report from UC Cooperative Extension: Marin County Community Garden Needs Assessment, sums it up by stating, "community gardens have a multiplier effect in relation to improved social, environmental, cultural, nutritional, and financial components of neighborhoods and their residents." Download the report below:
WE HAD SITE: The site WAS at O'Hair Park on Novato Blvd, past San Marin High School on the west side of the Dog Bone Meadow Park. After six years of hard work by a core group of volunteers, IN 2012 the City of Novato leased the property to Novato Live Well Network to build the Novato Community Garden. Click here to learn more about the garden site.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SITE? Initially our cost effective design included using the Dog Bone Meadow Park parking entrance, then a driveway would be built that would parallel Novato Blvd. to enter the community garden site and community garden parking (separate from the dog park parking lot). This design would take some footage away from the dog park, but was workable. Because of the water tower, sheds, nursery and pergola incorporated into our design, we were required to go through the Design Review process and pay thousands of dollars in fees. Our design was approved in October 2010. Unfortunately, a few dog park users were not happy about this arrangement and resisted. The City tried mediation between our two groups (took almost 1 year). The plan that was accepted was the dog park users' recommendation that the drive-thru goes through the dog park, to split it into two so that they had two fenced off dog parks: one for small dogs, and one for large dogs. We were open to this idea, as our initial calculations showed that this would still be cheaper than the required separate left-hand turning lane entrance. All parties agreed to this new design. So, new plans were drawn and approved by the City and we moved forward and signed a lease for the property for the community garden on Oct. 22, 2012 (Our board member's, Diet Stroeh, birthday).
In the past, the City did cover the majority of the cost for joint community projects on City land (like the dog park), but because of the City's economic situation, the City had no funds to partnership with us to build this garden. So, we began our fundraising efforts. But we had another setback: we discovered the dog park fencing was more expensive that we initially calculated. It would cost only $1,000 less than if we build a separate left-hand turning entrance. So we re-approached the City to go back to using the separate left-hand entrance design. The City approved.
Although we has a local construction company willing to do the entrance, drive-thru and parking at cost, we still needed to raise at least $250,000 to build this required infrastructure. The City required that we build this before we could get on the property to construct and open the garden.
More setbacks: In 2014, we re-approached the City Council, yet again, to inform them that although we applied for several grants, we could not raise the funds for the road work. There are many grants for gardens, but not for road construction and parking elements. Since the City's economic situation had improved and the City was planning to spend several hundred-thousand dollars to revamp the Dog Bone Meadow parking lot and some dog park elements, City Council direct City staff to go with our original design to have our entrance begin via the Dog Bone Meadow parking lot, then a driveway would be built that parallels Novato Blvd. This was a workable solution for both these two outdoor community facilities. Unfortunately, as we waited for City staff to get community feedback for the new Dog Bone Meadow parking design, because of continued resistance from a few dog park users, unbeknownst to us, City staff did not follow Council directive to incorporate the community garden drive thru when re-designing the dog park parking infrastructure. We found out about this in November 2015 and promptly contact City staff to set up a meeting with City staff to seek clarification and to request a letter, a memorandum-of-understand, of the verbal agreements we've had over the year. Instead, we received this letter dated December 8, 2015:
DECEMBER 2015: City's response was unacceptable. We followed up this December 13, 2015 letter to City staff:
DECEMBER 2015: While trying to arrange for a meeting with the City Manager to learn what was going on, we found out that the City Manager had resigned. Via email communications, we tried to set up a meeting with the City Manager and his staff before he departed. We were unsuccessful. We finally were able to meet with the Interim City Manager on February, 2, 2016. The letter below is a follow up from our meeting:
SPRING 2016: At this meeting, Interim City Manager assured us that the City is still supportive of the community garden. She shared that with the recent staff changes and delays in acquisition of the property on Hill Road, delays in resolution will continue, but she will kept us regularly updated. She also offer a temporary potential city site adjacent to school property that might be an interim solution. We would have to access water via the school site. Although this was a thoughtful offer, the site had some issues and we would have to negotiate with the school district and from our collective experience we knew this was not a "quick fix" but could also take several years to implement. This options was not viable and we preferred to stick to the O'Hair site without any other viable sites to consider.
LATE SPRING EARLY SUMMER 2016: Unfortunately, the promised "regular" communications did not happen. Because of new City staff and new City Council members, our board made arrangements to meet with council members individually to discuss the community garden. Because we could not get on the City Council agenda to talk to City Council members jointly and find resolution regarding the community garden, this was our only option to talk to council members in-depth. Previously we had also spoken at several council meetings during open public comment times and when ever the dog park site design was on the agenda, but we only had 3 minutes to talk. We informed the City Council and staff that we had not abandoned the O'Hair site and that we had not broken the lease. AND although in the future their might be a potential new city site, without any written agreement, we still want to proceed with the O'Hair site. Because we were not on the agenda, City Council could not discuss the community garden situation.
July 12, 2016: We reiterated our position with the following letter:
AUGUST 2016: Our Executive Director, Veronica Valero, is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, limiting her volunteer ability to follow up, outreach, fund-raise, etc. (Click on About/Contact for more info)
FALL 2016-SPRING 2017: We waited on City staff, periodically checking in. More staff resignations and changing of the guard. New City staff contacted us in Spring 2017. Escrow on Hill property closing soon. It is a good location for a community garden. But, to have it considered for the site, the City Council needs community input.
MAY 31, 2017: We are saddened by Board member's, Diet Stroeh, passing. (Click on About/Contact for more info)
JULY 25, 2017: Community Garden Project finally on Council agenda. To have it be considered on the Hill property, Novato residents need to show their support by speaking at the council meeting or writing to the council ideally prior to the July 25th date. (see top of this page for details).
WOULD YOU LIKE A GARDEN PLOT?
We are accepting "Applications of Interest." You will be the first to know about the progress in obtaining funding to build the garden and the first to receive information on how to apply for a plot. You will also be added to our email list to keep you updated. See our Sign Up page to download an "Application of Interest" in English or Spanish.
WHO MADE IT HAPPEN? The Novato Community Garden Project is a project of the Novato Live Well Network (www.NovatoLiveWell.org) a community based 100% volunteer organization in Novato.
THE VISION of the Novato Live Well Network is to build a healthy, sustainable community where people from diverse backgrounds come together to reconnect with the land, procure, grow, and preserve food in a sustainable manner for themselves and others, and cultivate a truly integrated community. We define sustainability as, "meeting the needs of all people "without threatening the health of the natural environment or the well-being of future generations." (Source: Worldwatch Institute)
THE MISSION of the Novato Live Well Network is to: build and support a network of local community gardens that enable people from diverse backgrounds to grow food and foster community in a sustainable manner; work with and educate families, schools, and our community about the positive benefits of choosing sustainable ways of eating, gardening and living by providing programs that support nutrition education, our local food-shed, school and community gardens, and sustainable living practices.
To learn more visit the About/Contact page.
And Help us Make 2017 the Year!
To Donate: Download and print the form below,
Make Checks Payable to: "Novato Live Well Network" All proceeds go towards the garden.
Novato Live Well Network
P.O. Box 1647
Novato, CA 94948-1647
We are currently developing GoFundMe page to accept donations.
The Novato Community Garden is a project of Novato Live Well Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.