ANNOUNCEMENT: New Board Member.
We are delighted to welcome Sunita Stablein to our board. She became involved with us back in September 2013 as part of a school project. We were so impressed with her professionalism, her contributions, and her willingness to roll up her sleeves to help with the "dirty work" -- and still maintain a positive attitude -- that we couldn't help but to ask her to join the board. We are thrilled that she said, "Yes!" We should have her bio shortly to add to our list below.
Novato Community Garden Receives $10,000 Grant
for Construction Costs
NOVATO, CA, May 10, 2013 -- The Novato Community Garden project recently received a $10,000 grant from the Marin County Board of Supervisors. This much needed infusion of funds will go towards the construction of the Novato Community Garden at O’Hair Park on Novato Boulevard. About $250,000 is needed to construct the required road entrance, parking, fencing, and well water irrigation system.
An advocate for community gardens and Marin’s agricultural foodshed, Supervisor Steven Kinsey acknowledged the many challenges faced by the garden advocates, “While the factors affecting a garden’s success are often sun, water, and soil conditions, in the case of the Novato Community Garden, the challenges have been much greater. Undaunted and persevering, I’m so proud of those who refused to give up until the soil could be turned.” Kinsey added, “Community gardens provide opportunities for food security, exercise, connection with the natural world, and fellowship with neighbors. They strengthen our sense of place and add to the quality of our lives. For all these reasons, I look forward to watching the dirt fly at the start of this great addition to Novato.”
Supervisor Judy Arnold, also a supporter of the project, was the first financial sponsor, designating a $2,500 grant on behalf of the County of Marin Board of Supervisors in February 2007, and an additional $2,500 in December 2011. “I am grateful to have been a supporter of Novato’s Community Garden from the very beginning.” Arnold recently shared with Veronica Valero, who initiated the garden project in June 2006. Arnold added, “I believe gardens are the first sign of a commitment to community. When people plant food they are saying, ‘We will stay here.’ By our connection to the land, we are connected to each other.”
Diet Stroeh, a well known community leader and Novato resident who grew up in Novato when the population was less than 3,000 people, recently shared at a Chamber Leadership Novato event, "The Novato Community Garden, when fully operating will become another community asset.” He added, “Vegetable gardening is one of the most rewarding activities one can do." Stroeh has gardened since he was four and is on the Novato Live Well Network (NLWN) board, which oversees the Novato Community Garden Project. Stroeh has also been instrumental in site design and negotiations issues around leasing the land from the City of Novato for the garden.
David Selzer, NLWN board member has been outreaching to the Novato community since he joined the board in the Fall of 2009. He said the most often asked question is: “When will the garden be open?” He will present the answer at the Novato Community Garden Kick-off event taking place on Thursday, May 16, 2013 from 7:00-8:30 PM at the All Saints Lutheran Church located at 2 San Marin Dr. in Novato. Supporters and those who want a plot are invited to come see the site design and hear about next steps the community needs to take in order to build the first community garden open to the public.
Lease Signed with the City of Novato for Community Garden
On October 22, 2012 Novato Live Well Network (NLWN) board members signed a lease with the City of Novato for the Novato Community Garden. The 25-year lease is for a 1.8-acre site located within O'Hair Park, west of Dogbone Meadow dog park. Our next step is fundraising: We need to raise $250,000. To make a donation, visit our Thank You page
EVENT: Grown In Novato (GRIN) Workshop Series
To Benefit the Novato Community Garden
Do you remember the taste of a tomato freshly picked from the vine? How about sweet corn, cucumbers, green beans, onions, lettuces and herbs? A new series of workshops for those who want to experience the wonderful flavor of home grown food is being held once a month in Novato, from February to October, 2013. If it’s been a while, or you just want to learn how to get more from your garden, please join us for fun and interactive workshops on growing your own vegetables successfully in 2013. Proceeds from the fees will be used to help build the Novato Community Garden at O’Hair Park off of Novato Blvd.
The first workshop will be held on Saturday, March 2 from 10:00 AM- 12:00 noon, and will cover building a raised bed and gardening on a grid layout.
To reserve your space, visit our Workshops webpage for more information and to download registration forms for the first three workshops.
New Demo Garden at Green Point Nursery
We want to congratulate Charlotte Torgovitsky, Novato Live Well Network Board Member, for successfully launching her new not-for-profit volunteer-powered nursery, "Home Ground Habitat Nursery." The focus is on growing California native plants, but they also grow non-native plants from other Mediterranean climates that provide habitat resources, and are well-behaved (those that pose no threat of becoming invasive in wild lands). To learn more: www.HomeGroundHabitatNursery.org.
Home Ground Habitat Nursery is located at Green Point Nursery in Novato. Charlotte Torgovitsky and Green Point Nursery have invited Novato Live Well Network to collaborate in building a small demonstration community garden to showcase to the community what community garden plots will look like. Our Grown In Marin Workshop Series will be held at this site. Owner Jim Ballestreri and his daughter, Lisa, are gracious hosts. They have provided space within their nursery for these nonprofit endeavors that benefit our native habitats and our community. Thank you Jim and Lisa Ballestreri!
Green Point Nursery features drought and deer resistant plants, and caters to landscape professionals. Customers can select plants from their extensive inventory of trees, shrubs, and perennials, or place an order for species not in stock. The entire nursery now uses recycled water. To learn more: www.GreenPointNurseryMarin.com
City Council Approved the Novato Community Garden Project
With over six years of hard work by a core group of Novato Live Well Network volunteers, on June 12, 2012 the Novato Community Garden Project finally met all the City of Novato requirements and received a unanimous approval of their plan. This includes a 25-year lease of City property at O’Hair Park off of Novato Boulevard, adjacent to the Dogbone Meadow Park. Read more via Novato Patch
We want to give a special “Thank You” to Andrew Schwartz, of Sommers & Schwartz LLP in San Francisco for donating his time, expertise, and legal assistance in our lease negotiations with the City of Novato. This was a $10,000 contribution!
Since June, we’ve been tending to the paperwork and will be signing the lease in the next couple of weeks. Once the paperwork is complete, we can focus our time and energy in raising funds for the garden.
We need and estimated $135,000 to begin the construction of the left-hand turning lane, parking and the fencing. Then we’ll need an estimated $70,000 for the well, water tower and irrigation system. Our goal is to raise $250,000 to cover all anticipated expenses to begin planting in the garden.
We will be outreaching to individuals, local businesses and organizations for monetary donations. We also will be applying for grants. We are looking for volunteers experienced in fundraising and event planning. If you can help, please contact Veronica Valero at 415-897-2302 or download our donation form.
We participated in Whole Foods Novato's "Dimes for Donations" program in the spring of 2012 and raised about $1,500. Thank you for bringing your reusable bags when you shopped at Whole Foods Novato and for giving your credit to nonprofit organizations such as ours. Every dime can make a difference! Keep it up: keep bring your reusable bags to Whole Foods and donate your credits to benefit other community organizations.
JANUARY 6, 2012
Novato Community Garden Challenging Businesses to "Match the Patch"
As a current ad running on network TV touts, "Small businesses are the life-blood of the community," volunteers of the Novato Community Garden Project (NCG) are counting on this as they prepare to send out solicitations to local businesses in hopes of an 'infusion' of that 'B-Positive' blood-type.
The earliest support in the fledgling fundraising effort came from Patch, USA, the parent of our own Novato Patch. "We believe in this," said Erika Perkins from Patch, New York. "It's really important for us to support community projects like these and we like to be seen as a trend-setter. It's pretty typical for media outlets to donate 'visibility,' but you can't build a raised bed with that, can you?" Patch donated $500 in cash in August 2011.
"I'm extremely proud of Patch's contributions to communities all over the country," said local Patch editor, Brent Ainsworth. "But especially here in Novato, my home of 15 years. I'm one of the many people who have cheered on this community garden effort since its inception. I admire all the volunteers who have devoted so much time to this project and I can't wait for the day it opens."
NCG has an allegiance to Patch. They've named their local campaign 'Match the Patch' in hopes of encouraging Novato businesses to donate $500, as well. "We need to raise $175,000 by March 15, 2012 in order to get our hands in the soil in time for the 2012 planting season," says advisory board member, Diet Stroeh. "I've got Ghilotti Brothers lined up to do the permit work, and those guys are brimming with community spirit. They love doing projects like this!"
Stroeh is referring to the engineering aspects of the garden project required by the City of Novato as a stipulation for developing the land for this purpose, which includes grading, ADA compliance, landscaping and hard-scape elements, a compliant 30-foot water tower and the agreed-upon modifications negotiated with Dogbone Meadow's leadership group to the dog park to augment shared access and expanded parking.
Many have commented that it is rather astounding that Novato does not yet have a community garden, which seems especially relevant in light of some of the divisiveness the affordable housing debate has spurred, as it's a place where we can get to know our neighbors-at-large. But in this time of economic stress, the City of Novato could offer no help in financing the garden project—it must all be raised by the community.
Whole-heartedly behind the project, Northbay Family Homes director Clark Blasdell didn't hesitate to be the first in line to 'Match the Patch' with a personal check for $500. "It's my hope that many businesses in our community will understand that by supporting the community garden project, they'll be directly in touch with those who'll note and appreciate that local effort, and turn around and 'shop local' to keep Novato economically vibrant from within."
"We've waited long enough," Diet Stroeh recently told project director Veronica Valero and site designer Don Foster, who have both worked tirelessly to get the City of Novato and Design Review Committee to approve the Community Garden. "We've got the approval, so need to move this forward quickly. All these folks have been patient, but the payoff is planting the plots. Let's make this happen!"
JANUARY 3, 2012
Garden Project Starts By Growing a Crop of Financial Backers
Novato Patch Article By Karen Pavone
There is a Chinese proverb that is as true today as when it was first said: "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."
As we pull together in the spirit of community this holiday season, filling our grocery carts with bags of food for our families and also for those families in our midst who are less fortunate, we should take a few moments to consider a more long-range view of feeding ourselves in the future.
We all have enough "stuff" -- more than enough in most cases. We are blessed to live in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, surrounded by some of the most beautiful open space in the state. In fact, Novato is a town whose historic roots are firmly planted in farming. Several multi-generational family farm properties can still be found amid the pastoral rolling hills that spread from our city. With all this as our inspiration, why not consider giving the gift of a sustainable community garden to ourselves and future generations who will call Novato their home.
Currently the Novato Community Garden, a project six years in the making by the Novato Live Well Network, is looking for funding to complete its final stages. Despite many obstacles along the way, the project's board of dedicated volunteers has continued to persevere and find solutions that have kept the garden moving forward. READ FULL ARTICLE...
OCTOBER 7, 2011
Novato Community Garden Group Reaches Agreement
With Dog Park Supporters: Click below to read October 7, 2011 Press Release
SEPTEMBER 21, 2011
The Novato Community Garden Committee has completed Phase One of the project. Working with the City of Novato, and with support of our City Council, a suitable garden site has been identified and reserved at O'Hair Park, the site design approved, a well has been drilled with services generously donated by Clear Heart Drilling, and final negotiations for a long-term lease are underway.
Next Step—Phase Two: We need your community spirit: your talents, support and services. Please join in our efforts to raise the funds necessary to complete Phase Two of this project. The City is ready to lease us the land, but at a cost of $5,000 to write the lease, another $2,500 for building permits, and $2,500 is needed for required insurance. To get the garden up and running, $200,000 to $250,000 is needed to build an access road, parking area, garden pathways, water system, and a perimeter fence. Other funds will be also be needed for Phase Three: sheds, nursery, gathering place, etc.
Will 2011 be the year? Only with your help. After over FIVE years of hard work, overcoming many obstacles, we are almost there--but we need the help of the community to build the garden. Click below to download a donate flyer Or, call 415-897-2302.
DECEMBER 13, 2010
City of Novato staff need to approve the recent documents we submitted mid-November. These include: the archeological report; the site plan with the site design changes requested by Design Review Committee at the Aug. 2, 2010 meeting; and the variance application and fee of $2,100 required for the approved variances (see info below). We are waiting to hear from the City about the next steps before we can begin writing up a lease agreement and begin negotiations with City staff. The final step with the City is to have the project approved by the Novato City Council.
AUGUST 8, 2010
Thumbs Up for Community Garden in Novato!
On August 4, 2010, we presented our Novato Community Garden site design to the City of Novato Design Review Committee (DRC). They loved our project! Thank you all who wrote letters of support, attended the meeting, and spoke on behalf of the project. Special thanks to Don Foster, our Site Development Manger, who designed the site, gave a great presentation, and has been handling all the details in moving this project through the City of Novato departments. He has contributed over a thousand hours of volunteer time and we are indebted to him: Here are the main points discussed at the DRC Workshop:
The DRC recommended a few modifications on the Pergola (the future carport). There was also discussion on types of alternative materials to be used in place of gravel on the lower half of the parking lot that would better accommodate those with physical disabilities.
The DRC also recommended that any future design alterations be reviewed by the City of Novato Zoning Administrator, as an alternative to bringing the project back to the Design Review Committee for final approval. This should save us money and speed up the project. But, we still need to bring the project before the City Council, and this costs money.
Also, because there is no construction classification in the City of Novato’s Planning Department to accommodate such agricultural projects as ours, our project had to be reviewed as a “Residential/Commercial” project. This required that we have such things as gutters in the parking lot, night lighting, a 14-foot vertical clearance for the carport, among other things totally inappropriate for this project. So, we requested a variance on the project. The DRC agreed with our request and recommended to City Staff to treat the project design as “rural & organic” in nature rather than an “urban” design as is a current requirement of standard parking lots. Although this will save us money on the construction of the project, unfortunately, the variance application that we have to submit costs about $2,000.
This is a significant step forward. There is more work to be done, especially raising funds to pay for these fee and future fees, as well as the project itself: an estimated cost of $175,000. We will update you in the coming weeks regarding “next steps” and opportunities to help us move this forward.
FEBRUARY, 25, 2010
COMMUNITY GARDEN FORUM UPDATE
We had our first outreach and fundraising event for the Novato Community Garden Project, titled: "Growing a Healthy Community from the Ground Up!" We had a wonderful group of panelists that shared with us how they built and sustained their "community" gardens: from childcare, schools, to senior housing--and of course the traditional community garden. We videotaped the event. In the coming months we will have it viewed on our local public access televisions. More info to come. We also raised over $2,000! We used the funds to help pay for the Design Review application fee to begin the process with the City of Novato to get approval of our project.
City of Novato VISION STATEMENT: Now includes support for Community Gardens. By participating in the Novato General Plan Update process, we were able to gain support to include wording in the vision statement to support community gardens. It reads: "As we look to the future, we wish to encourage and promote… creation of public gathering places, parks, recreational facilities and community gardens (emphasis added) that provide a sense of community, and allow enjoyment of our natural amenities…"
WELL WATER UPDATE: Thank you Clear Heart Drilling for donating your services to drill for water at the site! We struck it at 50 feet! Now we can move forward working with the City of Novato to lease the property. READ PRESS RELEASE BELOW:
Community Garden Project Takes Root in Novato
The Novato Community Garden Committee is preparing project plans to submit to the City of Novato for preparation to lease the city’s property at O'Hair Park off of Novato Boulevard. The 1.5 acre site is next to the Dogbone Meadow Park, on the west side. The community garden will have more than 50 plots and a demonstration mini-farm where participants of the garden and members of the community can come and learn how to plant, grow, water and care for vegetables using organic and sustainable principles.
The Committee is currently working on a City of Novato Preliminary Checklist that must be completed before a lease can be signed. In the meantime, the Novato Community Garden Committee is currently designing the site incorporating permaculture principles. The plan will have a water harvesting system and will include soil and water conservation practices, and various composting systems...READ PRESS RELEASE BELOW:
Novato discusses land for community garden
The Novato Community Garden Project has had preliminary discussions with City of Novato staff regarding leasing city property to build the first of a network of community gardens.
The site for lease is off of Novato Boulevard, west of the city’s Dogbone Meadow Park. As part of the agreement, Novato Community Garden Project (NCGP) will pay for all costs to develop the site, including full reimbursement to the city for any administrative and services fees. NCGP hopes to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in September to begin the process.
“We are very pleased with the cooperation and support of the city,” said Veronica Valero, Chair, NCGP. “Due to recent budget cuts and a budget deficit, we fully understand that the city will not be able to provide financial support to the project. However, by providing the lease, Novato is showing its strong support of the garden project and all the benefits that it will bring to the community." READ PRESS RELEASE BELOW:
PRESS RELEASE: Novato Recreation Commission to Vote on Community Garden Project
The City of Novato Recreation, Cultural and Community Services Advisory Commission will vote on May 8 to determine if it will recommend that the Novato City Council support a new community garden at one of two proposed locations. A vote of support for the project would result in the Commission recommending that the city lease one of the two sites for a Novato Community Garden.
The upcoming vote is the result of a grassroots effort from a team of Novatoans who have worked to locate a site and generate support for a community garden over the past eighteen months. In January 2008, the group, the Novato Community Garden Committee (NCGC), presented a proposal to the City of Novato Recreation, Cultural and Community Services Advisory Commission.
The NCGC presented two site possibilities to the Commission, both of which are owned by the City of Novato:
The NCGC is comprised of members representing a variety of interests and professions, each with a unique perspective for advocating the importance of a community garden. Generally, the group’s charter is based on a belief that community gardens provide spaces that allow people to reconnect with the land and the natural systems from which our food is grown. Community gardens also foster a sense of community, where neighbors meet neighbors and work together to nurture the garden space. The group also advocates the health and environmental benefits of a community garden.
"Just as a garden thrives on diversity, so too does a community," said Donna West, a NCGC member. West adds, "These garden spaces bring together people from diverse religious, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds, as well as people of different ages and abilities. "San Rafael, Larkspur, Mill Valley, San Anselmo, Fairfax and Point Reyes Station all have community gardens. Novato should too.”
Strong support from leading county figures
NCGC has gained the support of a number of prominent professionals throughout the county. Following are quotes from some of these individuals in support of the garden:
MARCH 18, 2008
Novato Community Garden Proposal -- Click below to read:
THE SIGNING OF THE LEASE: From left:
David Selzer, (NLWN Treasure); Michael Frank (City of Novato Manager); Veronica Valero (NLWN Pres.), Diet Stroeh (NLWN Board),
Tom Adams (City of Novato Sr. Management Analyst).
Demonstration Community Garden at Green Point Nursery.
The Novato Community Garden is a project of Novato Live Well Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.