Vera House Community Garden Thrives On, Hosts Open House May 10th
Normal Heights neighbors have seen the Vera House Community Garden change over the years since its very first formation in the early 1970s to the when the garden was officially opened in 1992 to where it stands now – a beautiful area that thrives with plants, vegetables, flowers, and a sense of community in the truest form.
Jody Prescott, garden chairperson for this year (a new person holds the position annually), shared the history of the garden and how it has been a constant in the neighborhood for the past several decades.
Originally, the lot became available after the house on it burned down. In the early stages of the Normal Heights Development Group, one of its founders wanted to see a garden occupy the empty space. With only two people first starting in the garden and a gardener hired to maintain it, the Vera House Community Garden has continued to thrive over the years.
The plot had to be cleared. Pipes had to be put in. But over time the plots were divided and a garden came to fruition. Prescott says what makes the garden work so well is the strong set of guidelines set forth for those inhabiting space. There are rules of what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. For example, nothing permanent is allowed to be planted. The only permanent fixtures on the property is the bay leaf tree in front, the rosemary bush in the garden, and the apricot tree in the back.
Gardeners occupying the space pay monthly fees for their plot, but those looking to practice their green thumb in the community garden may have to wait on good luck and timing to secure a spot. Currently, there are no open space in the garden and the waiting list for a section of it grew so long that the list closed a few years ago.
Those in the garden have monthly meetings to discuss the garden and changes it might need, new additions to be considered. The next project on the list: an owl house erected by July to take care of rodents.
Prescott has been part of the community garden for four years. She says one of the best parts about the garden is seeing and spending time with people she wouldn’t otherwise have had a chance to know. There is a Pinterest and Facebook community development page where recipes and photos are shared of the garden.
Currently the growing season calls for: beets, bell peppers, cabbages and lettuces, and soon into tomatoes and squash and peppers, and cucumbers.
For those interested in stopping by the community garden there will be an Open House on Saturday, May 10th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. This will be a chance for neighbors to talk to other gardeners and discuss questions like what kind of fertilizer is best, what bug repellent is recommended, etc. They will be giving away seeds, seedlings, and succulents for free.
As for what’s in store for the future of the Vera House Community Garden, they stay strong in their support of the community. They just donated 50 succulents to the Language Academy at San Diego State. They often host get togethers where everyone brings something from the garden to share, such as a delicious pepper jelly or tomato jam made with ingredients straight from the bounty of the garden. Dark Horse Coffee and Starbucks give their used coffee grounds for the soil for free to help the garden.
A bake sale or free books may pop up in the garden some day. Prescott also says the talk about chickens has been thrown around as an idea. Due to the upkeep, that idea has currently been vetoed. But you never know, she says, at some point this neighborhood treasure may house chickens. Either way, the garden grows on.
Community Event: Vera House Community Garden
When: Saturday, May 10th – 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Join the gardening discussion and take home free seeds and succulents.