The Vallejo People's Garden is a collaboration of many different individual volunteers and partner organizations in Vallejo. All of these volunteers and supporters became involved because they believe in one (or more) of the VPG's purposes:
- Promote health and wellness in our Vallejo community
- Grow organic fruits and vegetables for those who are most in need
- Improve our environment by taking care of water, soil, and wildlife
- Create educational opportunities for children and adults
- Encourage social and cultural connections across neighborhoods
People's Gardens educate children and adults about the environment, agriculture, sustainable practices, and science. They help create the next generation of farmers, gardeners, teachers, leaders, and active community members. Gardens expand the ability of citizens from all cultural, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds to share their traditions and beliefs. They are a neutral gathering place that fosters interaction. Gardens beautify communities and cultivate self-sufficiency. In World War II, Victory Gardens produced 40% of the fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States. Gardens provide therapy for the soul and healing for the spirit.
How did the Vallejo People's Garden begin?
The Vallejo People's Garden began as a partnership between a non-profit life skills training center, a federal agency, and a visionary Vallejo citizen, all within a mile of each other on Mare Island:
- Global Center for Success is a 501(c)(3) on Mare Island that provides supportive human services and programs to the homeless and needy. GCS helps with life skills training, health, and job skills training. GCS is excited to start a garden right in its backyard to serve as an outdoor classroom, a community hub, and a source of free organic produce for its clients.
- The Regional Office of the U.S. Forest Service employs over 200 people. An agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service sees urban gardens as a gateway for city-dwellers to connect with the land and to learn about water, soil, wildlife, and environmental topics. Employees have helped to build the Vallejo People's Garden from the ground up, following the example set by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack when he started a garden next to USDA offices on the National Mall in 2009. Volunteering allows Forest Service employees to meet and volunteer alongside their Vallejo neighbors after work and on weekends.
- Vilma Aquino is the pioneering spirit behind the Vallejo People's Garden. A resident of Mare Island, Vilma's vision was to convert the vacant lot at the corner of East Poplar and Oscar Streets on Mare Island into a garden to grow organic fruits and vegetables for the homeless, provide a place for people to learn about sustainable gardening practices, and to grow friendship and community. The official ground breaking began fall of 2009.
Grant funding for materials came from Nature's Path Organic Foods and Organic Gardening Magazine as a result of winning their nationwide Gardens For Good on-line contest. Two gardens won this grant, out of 267 proposals in 2010.
Once the funding arrived, volunteers came from all over Vallejo and beyond to help build the garden--digging trenches for the irrigation system, building raised beds, planting trees, and raising seedlings. Residents of surrounding neighborhoods and students from Touro University on Mare Island have been volunteering every Saturday morning, alongside volunteers from as far away as Berkeley and Fairfield.
Come join us on a volunteer day!