Get Your Shovels Ready! Join the 350 Garden Challenge | Civil Eats

Get Your Shovels Ready! Join the 350 Garden Challenge

All across the nation people are converting their front and backyards, vacant lots, and other spaces into thriving and productive food gardens. To help encourage new gardeners along this verdant path, The 350 Garden Challenge will bring thousands together over a a single weekend, May 15-16, to transform 350+ Sonoma County landscapes into bountiful gardens. The goal is to save water, link local food production and carbon savings, grow food and habitat, promote greywater, and encourage lawn to food transformations. The project is inspired in part by the 350.org international campaign to find and implement solutions to climate change.

It’s clear that the time for growing food through community is here and cities across California are joining efforts to save water, unite neighborhoods, and build a strong movement for local food production. The Victory Garden Foundation in Oakland aims to match Sonoma County’s Challenge and install 350 gardens over the same weekend in May. In Santa Monica, the third annual 100 Garden Challenge, pioneered by Gardens of Gratitude, will take place April 24 and 25.

“Sonoma County’s 350 Garden Challenge seeks to inspire our citizens to create a healthy, homegrown food supply, save water and cut greenhouse gas emissions,” said Trathen Heckman, Director of Daily Acts, a Petaluma-based nonprofit that provides education about greywater, home food production, and a range of sustainable living skills.

Key projects to be undertaken over the weekend include:

On the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, 20 members of the U.S. Coast Guard will revitalize a garden at Burbank Heights Apartments in Sebastopol; community members will plant this garden on May 15 and 16.

Green Sangha, a nonprofit group of environmental activists, will install a model garden at Community Market natural foods store near Santa Rosa Junior College. Wine barrels, plants, and soil will be distributed to the nonprofit community organization Nuestra Voz to install container gardens at 60 households at Spring Village, a low-income housing complex in Boyes Hot Springs.

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The 350 Garden Challenge initiative, which also seeks to educate and empower community and support local businesses, is a collaboration of Daily Acts, iGROW Sonoma, GoLocal, and Living Mandala, in conjunction with the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) and dozens of other community groups and companies. SCWA, in turn, has provided a generous $25,000 matching grant for this project.

Want to get involved? Join the 350 Challenge Facebook page. Garden sites and participation is being coordinated online and in individual community meetings and events. Get ready to dig in!

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Naomi Starkman is the founder and editor-in-chief of Civil Eats. She was a 2016 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford and co-founded the Food & Environment Reporting Network. Naomi has worked as a media consultant at Newsweek, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ, WIRED, and Consumer Reports magazines. After graduating from law school, she served as the Deputy Executive Director of the City of San Francisco’s Ethics Commission. Naomi is an avid organic gardener, having worked on several farms.  Read more >

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