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Grassroots Graton - March 2015


Grassroots Graton - March 2015

by Heather Granahan

As anyone who visits Graton and parks down the street from the Underwood  Bar and Bistro knows, we have been growing a garden for a few years – the Graton Community Garden.  You may have walked past the big lovely sign and depending on the season, gawked at the flowers and food, or peered at the old cornstalks rustling above the cover crops. To the side of the property across the lane from the Stone Creek Zen Center, a creek wanders in a deep groove – freed of litter by periodic cleanouts by the garden organizers. This creek and setback cannot be built on, to the relief of the wildlife that uses this corridor. Yes, that probably was a fox family you saw slipping into the undergrowth there after cocktails one night.

While the real estate market was becalmed, the land owners were kind enough to allow the garden to bunk there for the time being.  The Garden sprouted beds of veggies, new friends, and dinner feasts on hand-painted rescue tables and a commitment to keep a community garden in the village. A companion plant became firmly entwined with Garden: the effort for a Graton Community Park.  Fundraising and community efforts by the Graton Green Group and others  to find a site for one or both have risen and simmered back over the last couple of years. Still no permanent home was successfully claimed, despite a close miss with the old Firehouse site.

Unless you live under a (long paid-for) rock, you are likely aware of the increased heat under the ol’ real estate cauldron this Spring. Prices are up, inventory low, and folks who’ve been waiting to make good on both long and short patience are jumping their properties onto the market.  And so opens our passion play.

On a Wednesday in February, the owners of the land that houses the Community Garden announced that they were putting the property up for sale, and let the garden organizers know. The organizers in turn immediately alerted the burning souls who have been at the heart of the effort to find the Garden and Park a permanent home. As with every community movement, there are usually a few faithful and motivated folks who stand ready with a box of matches to strike under our complacent seats.  This time they did not need to set the whole box on fire – word streamed out like a single flame. Amazingly, within 24 hours $122,000 in pledges had been raised towards a very competitive offer. Alas, by that Saturday – only three days later - as papers were being prepared, word came in. Too late! The land had already had four offers and one had been accepted hours before!

If you think the curtain falls now, you, my friend, don’t know the passions of these townsfolk. Before the ink had dried on the buyer’s contract, a small group of women in town had formed and presently stand with a firm and generous first back-up offer. Their intent if given a chance is to purchase the property with a good chunk pledged for the community’s use for a garden and park.  If not, will the new owners find a similar place in land and heart? Will they build homes for new neighbors who also may yearn for this needed center?  Either way, passions for a place to garden and play run high! This was a call too close. Our fearless match-holders and friends with happily-singed seats will surely not rest until Graton has a place to grow together. For a walk-on or leading role in this play, contact HolLynn D’Lil at, and she’ll connect you. Though there are not many open places left in the heart of Graton’s neighborhoods, there surely are plenty in its inhabitants.

Ready Your Bed

Meanwhile in the back yard, between pruning it’s not a moment too early to start readying your garden beds for the Spring and Summer garden season. If you’re not sure where to start, is a good place. And if you are not prolifically adept at starting your own seeds, let me let you in on our valley’s best-kept secret:  laze around pruning and prepping your soil, and at the end of April, hie thee to the Graton Community Club’s Spring Flower and Plant sale. But be warned. I biked home with a few plants (OK, twice, I went back for a few more), and ended up with a spectacular harvest of well over 100 lbs of jaw dropping tomatoes in several heirloom varieties.  Prepare also to feed your soul with flowers the size of small suns . More next month, meanwhile: