Written by Sam Cuenca, District Wildlife Biologist, Region 5 Naturewatch Coordinator, Scott Salmon River Ranger District
In 1999, Yreka High School in Yreka, California received funds from a Forest Service Grant (Partners in Flight Program) to enhance their agriculture and natural resource program and provide wildlife habitat on school grounds. These funds were used to build a songbird garden, purchase fencing, materials for an irrigation system, and a greenhouse structure. The students and instructors constructed the fence, irrigation system and the greenhouse.
Then in the spring of 2009, the Siskiyou Gardens, Parks and Greenway Association (SGPGA) partnered with Yreka High School to develop a community garden and greenhouse. The Yreka Garden Club also agreed to help maintain the greenhouse in exchange for growing space. These organizations along with a number of community volunteers pulled their enthusiasm and resources together to make this project a reality. In a few short months they leveled the site, built the raised beds, fixed the fence and irrigation system, and started thousands of seedlings inside the greenhouse. Much of the heavy work was donated by members of the California Conservation Corps and some materials were donated by local businesses.
The grand opening of this People’s Garden was May 3, 2009. Festivities included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, old-time music, a plant sale, and gardening workshops. The garden was teeming with enthusiasm through the summer, and by September many hundreds of pounds of fruit and vegetables were ready to be harvested and donations were made to Yreka Senior Center, Yreka Hospice, Grange Hall Community Hot Meals Program, and Yreka Community Food Bank. Through these organizations produce was made available to an estimated 300-350 people. Six workshops were held here on topics related to gardening, greenhouses, starting seed, and food preservation.
This spring and summer the Yreka Community Garden will be hold free classes on permiculture, greenhouse plantings, composting and mulching, and canning.
Special thanks goes to their partners!
Members of the California Conservation Corps (CCC) volunteered their services for a variety of work including clean up, construction of the raised beds and setting fresh gravel in the greenhouse.
The Ford Family Foundation Leadership Training Group is sponsoring the construction of an outdoor classroom/gazebo. This structure is a special project led by a local leadership training class which has been fund-raising for this project for 7 months. This project has received much support from local contributors including Rotary Club and in kind contributions from local contractors.
The Yreka Community Garden will also be developing a Children’s Garden that will feature educational planting beds, small water fountain/bird bath, butterfly garden, willow tunnel, native American cedar plank house, and benches and paths. This is being developed by an active community group including U.S. Forest Service biologists, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists, local teachers, child development specialists, and local gardeners. Grants are being applied for to fund this aspect of the Yreka Community Garden.