The Town of Windsor has provided $10,000 to the Town Green Community Garden, which means the Windsor Garden Club, which runs the garden on behalf of the Town, now has enough money to finish rebuilding 72 raised garden beds that were badly deteriorated after 11 years of use.
The Windsor Garden Club offers the 72 garden beds both for rent and at free and reduced costs to low-income Windsor residents every year.
"Approximately 25% of the beds are paid for by donations by local businesses and residents and then offered for free or reduced-price to those who couldn't otherwise afford to garden," explained longtime community garden leader and club past president Cindy Fenton.
The community garden was created in 2010 by the founding members of the Windsor Garden Club. The original wood used for the beds was recycled and had an expected life span of 10 years. After 11 years of use, the boards of the oldest raised beds were rapidly deteriorating.
“The boards in every bed were showing signs of serious decay," Fenton said, adding the club began planning and fundraising for the beds two years ago.
The total cost of the bed rebuild project, including labor and materials, was estimated at $40,000. Windsor Garden Club appealed to members and the local community and raised more than $1,800 in donations just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020. Windsor Garden Club used the donations and savings from fundraisers over the past 10 years to rebuild the oldest 11 beds in spring 2020. The lumber cost alone was $8,000.
The club, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, applied for grants to rebuild the remaining 61 redwood beds in 2021. Two community groups turned down the grant application prior to the Town of Windsor Parks & Recreation Department providing $10,000 in Measure M funding to complete the project. Measure M is a one-eighth cent Sonoma County sales tax that provides dedicated funding to regional and city parks.
"We don't know what we would have done without the town of Windsor," said Mary Mariani, long-time WGC Vice-President in charge of the Town Green Community Garden. “The cost of lumber alone to complete the rest of the project was estimated to be $10,000.”
"Even with all the wonderful community support we received, there's no way we could have raised $10,000 to complete the bed rebuild project without the assistance from the town," said WGC president Teresa Hendrix.
WGC does charge rent to cover expenses in the garden, including water, soil, mulch and some maintenance. Bed renters pay from $20 to $80 per year based on the size of the planter rented. They are required to complete six hours a year of volunteer time keeping up the common areas of the garden, like its walkways and eating areas.
Also making the rebuilds possible was labor donated by the Windsor High School boys lacrosse teams in 2020 and 2021, coordinated by lacrosse Coach Jamie Goodfellow. The Windsor High Bridges program for special needs students also donated the lumber and labor to rebuild the largest garden bed, which serves Windsor’s food bank.
Thanks to the donated labor from WHS students, and from plot renters who volunteered for extra work, WGC has been able to rebuild 39 of the garden's 72 beds so far.
The club is looking for donated labor in the spring of 2022 — the dormant season for the garden — to complete as many of the remaining 33 old beds as it can. If your service or student group can volunteer to dig up garden beds or refill rebuilt garden beds during January, February, March or April 2022, "We want to hear from you," said project coordinator Tom Gulya.
Those interested can email WGC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about the Town Green Community Garden, visit its website at:
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