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Arcata Community Health and Wellness Garden


Garlic sprouting through the mulch at Arcata Community Health & Wellness Garden

The Arcata Community Health and Wellness Garden has been part of the community for around two decades as a garden or community space in some form, but Open Door has been operating it as a garden for just two years now.  It’s the garden on F and 11th Streets, right behind the Presbyterian Church in Arcata.  Until just a few years ago it was long-abandoned as a gardening space, with only the old-growth rosemary bushes showing evidence of its cultivation years ago.  Then a nurse from Humboldt Open Door organized work days to get the community together to shape the lot up with massive weeding and mulching, planting trees and shrubs, preparing it to be a functioning garden again, providing a learning space and food for the community while beautifying the neighborhood.  Now it’s doing just that!

The Arcata Wellness Garden is thriving, producing healthy fresh food which is harvested weekly and distributed at Humboldt Open Door Clinic and NorthCountry Clinic lobbies and to volunteers.  The garden is maintained by Open Door staff and community volunteers, mostly on Wednesdays from 11am to 2pm during the scheduled volunteer work time.  The garden has been an educational space for HSU classes and other community organizations as well as a fun place to learn, socialize, and gain experience for individual volunteers.  The garden is open to all and anyone is welcome to harvest food, though they are asked to contribute a little time for maintenance in exchange (there’s always plenty of weeding to do).

Though summer is over there are still things growing in the garden.  Lately the mizuna mustard, broccoli leaves, Swiss chard, and beets have been harvested.  There is newly planted lettuce and kale that will be harvested throughout the winter.  The garlic is planted and mulched and its shoots are quickly growing, unaffected by the cold weather.  The onions that were planted in October are getting bigger and will be ready to harvest in early Spring.  Neighbors and passers-by enjoy the cosmos, calendula, and sunflowers that continue to bloom through the autumn storms.  Hopefully you’ll have a chance to enjoy this garden as well!

Del Norte Community Wellness Garden

Next to the Del Norte Community Wellness Center in Crescent City is a community garden where individuals and families may rent a garden plot for free.  Sometimes health care providers from the clinic will “prescribe” a garden bed to a patient to aid in their  well-being, but anyone from the general community is welcome to rent a garden bed.  There’s plenty of space in the garden with 68 4’x 8’ garden beds, some of which are built higher for bad backs, plus four wheelchair-accessible beds, and eight larger community beds for gardeners to share.  Two of these larger community beds are currently tended by a youth group who are gaining work experience and will donate the produce they grow.  The garden also has a greenhouse where folks can grow hot crops and start seedlings.  There is a playground next to the garden, so the kids can play if they get bored of weeding.  Contact us to rent a plot.

Eureka Community Health and Wellness Garden

Open Door Community Health Centers operates five community gardens within Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.  The youngest of these gardens started in August of this year across the street from the Eureka Community Health and Wellness Center at 2200 Tydd St.  This garden was planted by Open Door staff and neighbor volunteers and, like the other Open Door gardens, provides a space for the community to learn how to grow food and reap the countless other benefits of gardening.  Volunteers help with weeding, planting, harvesting and any other garden activities including enjoying the bounty of fresh, deliciousproduce grown organically.  Open Door staff, patients, neighbors and the community in general are encouraged to get involved.

This small garden on Tydd St. provides a lot.  A variety of crops are grown  including broccoli, kale, Swiss chard, lettuce, spinach, garlic, onions, beets, cabbage, endive herbs and flowers.  The plan is to grow as much food as possible by using organic methods, crop rotation, and feeding the soil that ultimately feeds the people.  A three-compartment compost bin is being built to add to the nutrients that feed the garden beds while reducing the waste that adds to landfills.  There is a small greenhouse for seedling starts and season extension.  An herb spiral is planned to be installed in the next few months, providing a functional, appealing and permanent space for perennial culinary herbs.

The garden is only a little over 3,000 square feet, but it has produced a surprising amount of yield in this first season of its operation–over 250 pounds of produce has been grown and donated in just the past month!  Volunteers harvest weekly and bring the bounty to Silvercrest (a neighboring elder apartment complex), Open Door Member Services office (in Burre Center—anyone may go there for assistance with Covered California, Medi-Cal, CalFresh, and other resources), or to Eureka Community Health and Wellness Center.  These harvest distributions bring free, nutritious, fresh-as-can-be, tasty produce to folks who may not have access to healthy food otherwise.

Besides the measured benefit of producing pounds and pounds of fresh food, this and all other community gardens provide us with so much more that cannot necessarily be quantified.  Gardening relieves stress and anxiety, promotes physical activity, gets neighbors together beautifying their neighborhoods, and empowers all who take part in growing their own healthy food.  Gardens help their communities and gardens need their community’s help.  The Eureka Community Health and Wellness garden is functioning because of community support and involvement; join the fun by volunteering and enjoy all the benefits this and the other Open Door gardens provide!

Did You Know?

Some of the landscape behind the clinic at 2200 Tydd St. is edible? There are artichokes, strawberries, blueberries, and fruit trees here, yum! And there will be around twenty more fruit trees planted there this winter, beautifying the space and providing more food. Contact us to be part of the tree planting project.

Fortuna Garden Project

Open Door is one of many local organizations that take part in the Fortuna Garden Project which donates 100% of the produce grown to Fortuna food banks, food pantries and other distribution sites of the organizations’ choice.  Open Door and The Latino Health Promotion Project started gardening a plot in this space two summers ago.  The abundant produce grown here has been donated to the St. Joseph Food Pantry adjacent to the garden and to Mobile Health Services, which distributes the food to patients at many locales including the Betty Chinn Center and St. Vincent’s dining facility in Old Town Eureka.  The Open Door garden plot in the Fortuna Garden Project is available for LHPP members and any other patients or staff to enjoy gardening and harvest fresh produce.

Willow Creek Community Health and Wellness Garden

Located just behind the “Welcome to Willow Creek” sign and next to Willow Creek Community Health Center is a community garden of raised beds for veggies, fruit trees, and flowers.  This garden has been a great place for staff and patients to rest, learn, and harvest fresh food.