Locals can get their hands dirty during an event Saturday that’s designed to transform part of the Paso Robles community.
The activity includes a mulching process to mark the beginning of a new demonstration project showcasing gardens that require less water than lawns.
The project is being carried out through a one-year agreement between the local Transition Town’s Food Group and the city, because it’s forming on a city park. The City Council approved the partnership in November.
Participants will stack manure, cardboard and leaves over an existing patch of lawn at Centennial Park so it decomposes into fertile soil over the holidays. Afterward, the area will be ready for planting, member Judith Bernstein said.
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Planting will begin with a community workshop set for Jan. 23 to install fruit trees such as pistachio, persimmon, apricot, fig and almond. In the spring, participants in another workshop will plant drought-tolerant shrubs and perennials. In early summer, the lowest layer of vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, chard and carrots will go in.
There will also be grape arbors over the existing picnic tables. Dubbed a food forest, it will be watered by drip irrigation, using less water than the existing lawn, Bernstein said.
Saturday will also serve as the first in a series of planned workshops to demonstrate how to convert lawns to food producing areas.
The first physical step in creating the food garden happened this week when helpers fenced off the area to protect it.
Next up is the mulching and layering. The first layer will be the approximately 1,000-square-foot patch of grass already there.
Volunteers will then help spread horse manure over the lawn and put a layer of cardboard on top, organizers said. The final layer will be of an organic material, such as leaves.
The area will be watered to jump-start the process of composting, Bernstein said. Afterward, those materials will break down the grass to become fertile soil.