4,000 families receive food from the Tri-City Foodbank in Fremont, CA each month. 1 in 4 children in the Tri-City area are hungry. For those who receive food from local foodbanks or shelters, most of it is non-perishable, canned, bottled and/or boxed; however, a body needs more fresh food in its natural state in order to grow healthy and strong. Communities need help from agriculture-oriented youth to create and harvest seasonal vegetable gardens and plant fruit trees to help feed those who don’t have the means to obtain fresh, local, organic produce. Under the leadership of Bayside 4-H Junior Master Gardener project member, Natalie, the 8-month long Backyard Gardens project united 4-H members, knowledgeable mentors and community members with a common goal: building community through backyard gardening.
How has 4-H helped?
The Bayside 4-H Junior Master Gardener Project members (ages 5-14), have spent the past year collaborating with local community members and gardening mentors to study and implement requirements for an urban agriculture site in the San Francisco Bay Area. In only eight months the group has planted several varieties of squash, cilantro, cucumbers, parsley, tomatoes, basil, leeks, and chard in three raised beds. In addition, the group has utilized high-density orchard planting techniques to plant 20 new fruit trees, several multi-graft, that will produce almost 50 varieties of fruit. Within the orchard, the group utilizes chickens for ground pest control, soil surface aeration, kitchen scrap consumption, free-range egg production and fruit tree fertilization. A homemade worm bin also facilitates the decomposition of kitchen food scraps into castings to produce worm tea, ideal for improving plant growth and disease prevention. The project members used the Junior Master Gardener Level 1 Curriculum as a framework for their learning, and alongside the exemplary curriculum, the group worked collaboratively with several local professionals and experts in their fields including Kris Sandoe, Certified Alameda County Master Gardener; Frank Niccoli, integrated pest management expert and horticulturist; and Ann Morrison landscape designer, to explore potential careers and apprenticeship-mentorship opportunities. The group also attended the Alameda County 4-H Gardening Field Day where members engaged new skills as they entered items for judging, participated in a judging contest, attended various demonstrations and created garden related crafts for a service project. Learn more here >.
Once done, you have an excellent community-building project which feeds people as well. Thank you, Bayside 4-H-ers!”
-- Gail Orwig, Children’s Department, Fremont Main Library
The Bayside 4-H Junior Master Gardener Project members have gained many life skills while sustaining a service-oriented garden and backyard orchard, such as project management, empathy for others, teamwork and presentation skills. As a result, the garden boxes are currently overflowing with plentiful new growth and ripening vegetables, fruits and herbs. Late summer and fall donations are expected to reach at least 15 pounds of fresh, local, organic produce per week. The project members continue to tally pounds of produce donated to measure the impact of the project over time. In upcoming years, the Junior Master Gardener Project will utilize their Backyard Gardens Build Communities presentation to orient new project members and educate community members when opportunities arise. Months and years of production following the project, providing they are fruitful ones, will involve continued education and donation of produce to community organizations in need.