Green Initiative - Community Garden
Garden2The community garden is located on Seminary Road a little lower down the hill than the entrance to the top of the campus. It was initiated by some students in a class “Environmental Ethics” about 15 years ago. In subsequent years the gardeners have been self-selected students, faculty, staff and spouses. Once in a while, someone is an accomplished gardener who teaches the rest of us some rich lore and practices. Most of us who are gardeners are teaching ourselves as we go along. You may become a gardener in the Community Garden by saying you want to, whether you’ve ever gardened before or not. As a gardener you'll learn to compost, weed, plant, dead-head flowers, and eat nice produce. The food that grows in the garden is for the gardeners. The garden also needs physical maintenance, such as path clearing, woodchip hauling to the paths, repair of garden furniture. You see there are many ways to become a gardener.

Some motivations gardeners have had for participating in the garden:
  1. Grow food in clean soil and prepare it for ourselves and our families and friends fresh from its beds;
  2. Get outside in a rather tranquil environment and expose ourselves to breezes, sun, shade, dirt, birds and other critters;
  3. Feel grounded spiritually even when we are otherwise busy driving cars, studying books, discussing ideas, and worrying about bills;
  4. Learn something new about how food can come to our homes;
  5. Develop practices that are health-giving alternatives to agribusiness and corporate food distribution systems; Experience community in a context where no one is graded or paid, though we have different roles here at the Seminary.

Garden1 Since gardening can be a spiritual, aesthetic, educational, social, political, agricultural, and economic practice, gardeners come with different goals. Here are some guidelines for sharing this space together:

  1. We garden organically. We feed the soil the compost we either make from kitchen scraps or buy as organic compost, and hence we help keep the soil living and full of organisms. As such, the soil fights off pests. We do not use petrochemical herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizer. When there are pests, we use mechanical barriers to protect the plants.

  2. We garden the whole garden together. Instead of dividing up the garden into individual plots, we think and talk together informally about how the space should be used so everyone gets to harvest what they want. Sometimes we’ve tried to have meetings of the gardeners in the garden, but that can be frustrating in the face of everyone’s busy schedules. In that event, we rely on the phone, chance encounter, and word of mouth to consult.

  3. Garden3
  4. When you plant something new, particularly as seeds, the earth must be kept moist until germination. This requires watering every afternoon, presuming the automatic watering system comes on early in the morning. When you plant seeds, make sure people know you need extra visits to the garden, and take a little extra responsibility yourself. When the green plants appear, you may need to surround them with copper strips to protect from snails until they are large and strong.

  5. When you take your turn to water and weed, water the whole garden, not just your babies. Periodically repair the earthen basin around the perennials that captures water and prevents run-off.

  6. Harvesting many vegetables is not only a pleasure; it is a duty! Green beans and cucumbers, for instance, need to be picked so the vine knows to continue producing. If you fail to pick mature vegetables, the vine gets a chemical message to stop producing altogether.

  7. One way you can participate in the garden is by helping to feed the compost pile, which if tended will make food to return to the soil. After the soil has given us food, it needs to be fed also. We give the soil vitamins, minerals, and live organisms by creating compost. Since we rarely have manure, our compost pile is a cold one. It will make compost, but more slowly than if we had manure. Cold compost piles also do not reach the hot temperature needed to kill weed seeds and other seeds. So we do not put weeds in the compost pile, and after putting compost on the garden sometimes we’re surprised by the numbers of volunteers that come up. It’s a judgment call whether to let the volunteers reach maturity, or return them to the pile.
    Compost is its own subject in many ways. Save vegetable clippings, fruit peels, coffee and tea grounds with their filters and bags, egg shells, corn cobs…. Do not put dairy, meat, and oils (butter, grease, other oil) in the compost pile. Citrus peels compost very slowly. Commercial produce growers use herbicides and pesticides, which concentrate in compost, so ideally the kitchen scraps will be from organic produce. But it is difficult to consistently purchase organic produce unless we consistently frequent shops that specialize in this way (like “Good Earth” on Sir Francis Drake in Fairfax). The gardeners therefore hope your kitchen scraps will come from organic food, but if it doesn’t, the value in your participating in the garden by composting and decreasing waste going to the landfill overweighs the danger of toxic contamination.

    Add your scraps to the “working” compost pile. There may be a finished pile that is ready to be put on the garden, and do not add fresh scraps to that pile. You will be able to tell by looking which is done which is not, if there is more than one.

  8. There are garden tools for gardeners near the garden gate, and in a plastic box with lid near the table. Please get yourself a pair of gardening gloves. (Longs, Sunnyside Nursery, even the grocery stores may have them.) Humble ones may be all you need.

  9. When you harvest greens, use the pluck and return method. Take outer leaves from several plants, and leave the live plant to grow more.


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105 Seminary Rd
San Anselmo CA, 94960
Phone: 415.451.2800