Because of the success of the Serra Mesa Food Pantry, the San Diego Food Bank (SDFB) selected Serra Mesa as a possible site for a pilot program to develop a Community Garden and Orchard with plots for the benefit of the pantry and for individual households.  The original idea was presented by Lisa Martinusen, Non-Profit Supervisor of the San Diego Food Bank, to Brenda Casey of Mission Village Christian Fellowship and Pastor Gloria Espeseth of Gethsemane Lutheran Church and others from their respective churches since the two churches have unused land available at the back of their adjoining lots overlooking Shawn Canyon.  Significant interest was shown by not only church members but also people who use the Serra Mesa Food Pantry and members of the Serra Mesa community, including Carl Demas, President of the Serra Mesa Community Council.  Modest beginning funds have been committed, and we are awaiting word on a grant through SDFB.  This is envisioned to be a true community garden with plots available to the Serra Mesa community.

After several interest and planning meetings, an eight week class was developed by Victory Gardens San Diego (VGSD) to teach basic gardening and enable a group of people to plan and implement a Community Garden.  Richard Winkler, Project Manager for VGSD, took the lead but resources from the wider community gardening community of San Diego have been a part of the class.  Students and Professor Leslie Ryan from the New School of Architecture have provided a design with four phases.  (Check out the websites for Victory Gardens San Diego, Community Garden Network of San Diego, Master Gardeners, and the San Diego Chapter of California Rare Fruit Growers.)

At the last class on April 2, 2011, Serra Mesa Community Garden and Orchard was launched with a vision, basic rules and guidelines, and officers.  Having learned the basics of soil preparation, growing seeds, composting, fencing, watering, fruit trees, building garden beds, and more, volunteers built out the garden infrastructure and initial set of raised beds, opening to community gardeners November 5, 2011.

The orchard’s 18 fruit trees supply fresh fruit to the Serra Mesa Food Pantry, supplemented with donations of produce from the garden’s 68 4′ x 12′ plots.

Check out the garden at the back of 2650 Melbourne Drive (across from Juarez Elementary School) or email for information on renting one of the plots, as available.