Community garden grows on 18th
By YANIRA LEDEZMA
July 4, 2019
The 18th Street People’s Garden is
officially open to the public.
Community members celebrated the grand
opening of the garden this past Saturday, June 29, at 936
W 18th street in Merced, with live music, lunch, a raffle,
and a “green” ribbon cutting.
The garden was funded and supported through private and
local donors, and the so-called People’s Budget: Community
Unity for Improvement.
Merced County is said to be the first county in the nation
to take part in a “participatory budget” —
a process that allowed local residents the opportunity to
choose the community projects that would receive available
discretionary public funds allotted to a representative
With the support of the Merced Local Food Project, District
2 Supervisor Lee Lor, community members, and volunteers,
the 18th Street People’s Garden was able to come to
life four years after first being imagined.
“We really wanted to create a community gathering
space where we can talk about how we can begin to address
the food challenges here in the Central Valley — all
while creating a place where everyone can come together,”
explained Kristen Mengell, the project supervisor.
Mengell said many people face food insecurity in areas
of the Central Valley where nutritious food options are
not easily available or affordable to the community. The
People’s Garden will serve as a direct food banquet
for those who cannot afford vegetables, and it’s totally
free for them.
“It doesn’t make sense that people here do
not have easy access or cannot afford these types of foods
when this [Central Valley] is where all the food comes from,”
The garden already produces tomatoes, peppers, squash,
pumpkins, watermelons, and herbs. Community members are
encouraged to utilize the garden as their own. A mailbox-style
library for free book sharing stands at the edge of the
garden, donated by the Merced County Office of Education.
A trail of hand-painted stones by local artist Jazz Diaz
creates a path to the lending library. As an active member
of the community, Diaz has been advocating and supporting
the push for a community garden in Merced for five years
Residents are encouraged to volunteer and engage in the
maintenance and upkeep of the garden. A total of 30 to 40
volunteers and donors made the garden a reality, including
supplies from Big Creek, Ewing Irrigation and Landscape
Supply, Hunter Farms, Merced Gardens and Nursery, Sierra
Material Company, and Merced County.
The roots have been planted, supporters say, and now only
with the communities’ help will this garden continue
to flourish and grow.
For more information on the garden, email: email@example.com,
or call the main building at (209) 724-0973.