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Cloverdale Comments - January 2016


Cloverdale Comments - January 2016

by Carol Russell

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” —Cicero

The sign, “Open Dawn ‘til Dusk”, at the entrance of Cloverdale’s Community Garden extends an invitation to each passerby. Yet years ago this prominent acre of land was the home of Cloverdale’s mayor and its garden a haven where his wife could be surrounded by the peacefulness of nature. 

By 2009 the home was long gone and the garden deteriorating but popular community leaders Mardi Granger and former Senior Center Director Maggie Rosenberg dreamed of repurposing the acre. They envisioned a “garden oasis”, a special place for Cloverdalians to produce food together and share the experience of true community.

With the kind co-operation of the property owners, Mardi (who ever since has devoted very long days) set about recruiting a broad collaboration of organizations, businesses and residents to help realize the vision, including: Cloverdale High School students who cleared the land and prepared plots during Community Unity Day; generous donors like Bruce Reuser, who gave compost and mulch, and Paul DenBeste, who gave a water tank; many others who provided irrigation supplies, a drip system for water conservation, wood chips and even solar panels and a battery bank; local experts who give their knowledge and time to install and maintain everything, plus every garden plot holder who contributes two hours per month toward the Garden’s general maintenance.

Thanks to everyone the land was redesigned to nurture its standing pepper and oaks along with newly planted fruit trees and to incorporate ten large, round plots plus ten smaller, leaf-shaped plots in which folks from across our community can grow flowers, fruits and vegetables with all food produced being shared between the gardeners and our Food Bank. Even the chickens residing there contribute their share of eggs!   

Renowned Bay Area restaurateur Matt Semmelhack, owner of Cloverdale’s Trading Post Market and Bakery, utilizes a large plot to grown glorious vegetables and herbs. He also supports the Garden financially, particularly for the required insurance, and gives his time and management skills to help oversee it. To reserve your plot in the Community Garden oasis, call Mardi at 894-2736! 

“The greatest gift of a garden is restoration of the five senses”–Hanna Rion

For years the plain dark wood façade of 216 South Cloverdale Boulevard reminded us of an aging saloon out of an old western movie. Now, thanks to the foresight and imaginations of the co-owners of the Cloverdale Nursery, that façade and the entire property are transformed into a work of art.

Step through the restored brass framed door into an atmosphere of calmness or stroll through the unpretentious natural perfection of the outdoor displays. Here are succulents, flowers, ornamentals, vegetables, herbs, soil, seeds, pots, pest products, gardening tools and accessories plus much more, including a very inviting and appealingly priced gift shop.  

The talented and expert horticulturists, Ashley Porter, Scott Eastman and Gary Forsman, remind us of the many diverse yet essentially similar people--creative, adventurous, thoughtful, achieving, independently minded but community oriented—who, since the 1800s, have been attracted to our small city’s way of life and business. 

They discovered their paths early. At eighteen, Ashley started a career that includes college level studies plus a certificate (her hardy terrariums are a gift shop favorite!) Scott was in art school when work in a nursery led him to discover his “true calling”. Gary’s help in Mom’s garden literally blossomed into a forty-year career and studies at Cal Poly. Having previously worked together, they clearly respect one another’s individual abilities as colleagues while they “really care about each other” as friends, thereby gaining an invaluable head start on the toughest part of partnership.  

These gardeners have joined our community, taking responsibility for the front of the Community Garden across the street, tending the flowers and bushes, and adding to the natural peacefulness.

Beginners, experts and in-betweens, Cloverdale Nursery “where plants, community, and service are a way of life” helps us be successful and, as the three rightly pointed out when we met, since gardening can be therapeutic to express ourselves through our home gardens. Dedicated to “ethical gardening”, they purchase from local wholesalers as much as possible. 894-6654; 9-5; 7 days; Kid & Dog friendly!