Want to grow some veggies? SLO will soon open its fifth community garden

Community gardens seem to be all the rage in San Luis Obispo these days, with waiting lists of 10 to 15 people at each of the existing four spaces operated by the city.

Those still waiting to grow their lettuce, beans, zucchinis, and oregano have good news coming. A new community garden is expected to open in April.

The nonprofit One Cool Earth is in the process of designing and building a new garden on about a quarter-acre of land at Laguna Lake Municipal Golf Course at 11175 of Los Osos Valley Road.

The 42-plot garden will be the first in San Luis Obispo County to use recycled water, said Greg Ellis-Valencia, executive director of One Cool Earth.

“An individual or family will have the opportunity to rent a plot at a minimal price, something like $20 to $25 per year, and get free water, growing space and to keep their produce,” Ellis-Valencia said. “The city will oversee the garden.”

One Cool Earth has raised nearly $14,300 for the project, with a goal of $18,300. The organization has set up a donation page on its website at onecoolearth.org/community-garden.html.

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A new community garden is nearing completion next to the Laguna Lake Municipal Golf Course in San Luis Obispo. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The new garden will be called Kiwanis Centennial Garden because the local Kiwanis chapter donated $10,000 toward the effort. Former City Councilman John Ashbaugh, a member of Kiwanis, supported the garden and the donation.

The effort also received a $2,000 grant from the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation, a public trust, that kickstarted the fundraising.

One Cool Earth is installing fencing and irrigation and providing weeding and mulching. They’ll also provide signage warning people not to drink the recycled, non-potable water.

The city owns and operates Laguna Lake Golf Course, and the area of the property that will house the garden — facing Los Osos Valley Road across from Laguna Middle School — was underused, according to Dave Setterland, a city Parks and Recreation supervisor.

City officials liked the idea because of the high demand and recycled water use and because it will provide a new outlet for an underserved part of the community.

“We’re really excited about it,” Setterland said. “There are many people who live in this area in apartments or condos who may not have a space of their own to plant their veggies or flowers. This part of the city will really benefit from a community garden.”

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A new community garden is nearing completion next to the Laguna Lake Municipal Golf Course in San Luis Obispo. It will use reclaimed water. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The garden also will feature a so-called “food forest” that will have fruit trees, herbs and grape vines.

Setterland said that a community sign-up list hasn’t been posted yet. But he expects the Parks and Recreation department to make one available on its website.

The city also has city community gardens at Broad Street, Laurel Lane, Emerson Park and Meadow Park.

In a Facebook post, San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon urged the public to support the garden.

“Ever wanted to help save the planet? Ever wanted to achieve a semblance of immortality? Ever wanted to think globally and act locally?” Harmon wrote. “One Cool Earth is seeding the future with hope. They are the real deal.”

The grand opening for the project is planned for April 6.