Driving by the plot of land at 15690 Railroad Ave., nestled next to an overpass and directly across from the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, someone might guess the piles of dirt and stacks of lumber foretell another building development.
A closer look, however, reveals something different. There are two sheds at the entrance of the property that will soon house the tools for the new Morgan Hill Community Garden.
Three of up to 80 raised garden beds have been built, and plots for children and one that’s wheelchair accessible are already in place.
John Jenkins, president of the community garden, says he hopes the new garden will be up and running by the end of November. He says most people, even some current members, aren’t aware the community garden is moving from its previous location near the Morgan Hill courthouse, but he hopes the new space will offer opportunities for the garden to grow.
In a city that is rapidly changing, building more housing for new residents working at tech jobs outside city limits, Jenkins believes the garden could have a unifying effect.
“It’s a great thing because we live in such a disjointed city with people traveling up to Silicon Valley, and this is a way for them to reconnect with people and neighbors and find new people,” he says, taking a break from building a garden plot frame.
There are currently about 42 members of the community garden, according to Jenkins, with seven board members including himself. The former community garden, located by the county courthouse, was provided by the city a decade ago. That location was always temporary, said Jenkins, and the garden had to pull up roots recently after the property was annexed into the city limits.
With almost three acres—compared to a quarter-acre at the old site—Jenkins said the new location will be able to offer more plots for members, as well as classes and activities. With the new property will come an increase in annual membership fees from $50 to $75.
Jenkins says that because the garden provides an opportunity for everyone to learn about horticulture and growing their own food, a scholarship program is available that offers a 50 percent discount.
Putting together the new garden has been a community effort. The garden received $248,012 in grant money from the county’s Open Space Authority, the first project of its kind to be funded by the authority. Jenkins says local Eagle Scouts helped plant trees around the new site’s perimeter, and Home Depot donated $6,000.
Despite the work required to expand and move the community garden, Jenkins worries that most residents don’t know it exists. He hopes that once the space is completed, it will provide the opportunity for residents of all different backgrounds to come together.
“You see high-density housing, so it’s a great opportunity,” said Jenkins. “This is what this is designed for—people of all ages who can come in here and learn how to garden.”