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Park News, 2016

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The Southern Humboldt Community Park is undergoing a bittersweet transition in its agricultural activities and farm management. Currently, and for the past ten plus years the Garberville Community Farm at the Park has been managed and operated by John Finley and Lisa Solaris. With this being their last season at the park, the Park Board and Staff would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for all their hard work and energy over the years in caring for the farm, working the land, and giving it their all to produce an abundance of crops for our community. Their time and dedication given towards making the Community Farm a success will not be forgotten; we wish them all the best in their next chapter.

With this transition underway the Community Park has begun to develop short and long term agricultural plans that are designed to benefit our community in a variety of ways, while at the same time generating much needed revenue flow to fund the Park. In the immediate future, the Park is collaborating with various local farmers on a select few agricultural projects. While we are very enthusiastic and grateful to have these new projects underway, they are a piece of the bigger picture — part of an interim agricultural plan intended to keep us operational while we take the time to develop a long term comprehensive plan for the park that will encompass permaculture design and be holistic in nature. The Park Board welcomes and greatly values the community’s input on a comprehensive ag plan for our Community Park.

We are inspired and hopeful that the agricultural component of the Community Park will become a living model for holistic farming and permaculture design – that not only produces food and other products for the community, but is a place where folks can participate and learn in the process. To design and implement this vision, we have a lot of learning to do. As such, we’re very excited to be developing a series of workshops (to be offered this spring) on a variety of agricultural topics intended to generate public participation and education. Through the workshops we hope to learn a great deal about how to implement best practices in farming and permaculture design to ensure that agricultural activities at the Park are water savvy and otherwise environmentally and socially responsible. If there is an ag related topic that you are interested in having the park host a workshop on, please let us know!

As for new projects already underway at the Park:

  • We are leasing 10 acres of land for a vineyard in the upper meadowlands next to the forest, an area that the NRCS/USDA classifies as having Parkland soil type, beneficial for growing wine grapes. The vineyard will generate a long term revenue source for the Park through the lease of land, while also bringing great aesthetic and educational value to the community. We hope that the growing of the grapes and processing the wine will be open to public participation through educational workshops.
  • In addition to the vineyard, the Park is growing two separate over-winter garlic crops!
  • Last summer, the Park experimented with cattle grazing on pasture lands that had been overgrown with harding grass. For about three months, 30 young female heifer cows were set free (within the fence line) to eat down the tough harding grass, making way for new young green grass shoots to spring up. With the success of the grazing trial, the future of rotational grazing at the park as part of a holistic farming plan is under consideration, as is the continued production of organic alfalfa and hay bailing. Cattle grazing, hay production and new crops in areas that previously have not been farmed will require the park to address the issue of improved fencing and possibly building new fences. As the board is committed to developing a comprehensive ag plan, we want to ensure that it includes that any new fencing be compatible with other park uses and wildlife corridors.
  • Another exciting proposal that has been brought to the board is a large scale vermiculture project that would seek to compost food waste from the surrounding community.

And finally, thankfully, in the lower field and green house where the Community Farm has existed for many years, winter cover crops have been planted in anticipation of continued food crop production in this area for next spring. The food grown from the lower field (operated by John and Lisa), has contributed to the state CalFresh program and our modified CSA program. Each week from Spring to Fall, the Community Park provides fresh and nutritious food to individual families, seniors and local safety-net organizations that provide hot meals to those in need, including the Mateel Meal, Garberville Food Pantry, the Healy Senior Center, and WISH Women’s Shelter. While larger kitchen baskets are given to local food-distribution organizations, individual baskets are also dispersed to families and seniors connected with the Southern Humboldt Family Resource Center, Beginnings School, Healy Center, and Community Cornerstone via our weekly delivery system. We are very proud of this aspect of agricultural activity at the park and are eager to continue it and expand on it!

As we await the County’s decision on our requested zone change to allow approximately 80 acres of park land to function as public recreation, the Park is carrying on with activities allowed under our current agriculture zone. We’re looking on the bright side and want to maintain this great momentum that’s been created by all you community members who’ve been involved over the years, in one way or another, supporting the Park and making it all happen! We invite you, members of this community, to provide insight and feedback as we develop a long term comprehensive plan for agriculture at the Park – to ensure we provide for our community and environment. Let’s work together to evolve!

To find out how you can participate or to provide your input please give us a call at 707-923-2928 or send us an email: contact.sohumpark@gmail.com