Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church (BAUUC) launched the Neighborhood Project in October 2011 to engage the congregation with the local community as part of the church’s mission “to change lives and heal the world”. The BAUUC Community Garden is an extension of the Neighborhood Project. In conjunction with other outreach and service projects, the garden will be a place where members, friends and neighbors of the church can work together side-by-side despite differences in background, culture and language. Not only will this garden grow food, it will grow a community.
The initial design and construction of the garden will be managed by volunteers from the congregation. Seven BAUUC volunteers attended training classes at Urban Harvest on planning and implementing community gardens. The sessions covered garden design and management, selection and installation of building materials, the importance of habitat for beneficial wildlife and recommendations of specific fruits and vegetables that do well in the region. Additional volunteers met with organizers from local gardens and toured their sites to learn strategies and techniques for successfully managing community gardens.
The BAUUC Community Garden will operate as an allotment garden. Donors have committed to install at least ten 4-ft by 20-ft garden plots specifically for use by low-income families from the neighboring area. Each family will plant and harvest for themselves whatever produce they care to grow on their allotment, and they will share responsibility in the maintenance of common areas in the garden. Additional plots will be built as donor funds are available, and there will be an option for members of the church to have their own allotments. In time, the garden may expand to include fruit trees, berries, melon patches and other communal crops.
Some garden components will be installed in November and December 2011, but the big “build-out day” for the garden will occur in January 2012 using volunteers from the Unitarian Universalist Gulf Coast Youth Rally. Everything should be in place to begin spring plantings in mid-February.