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By Brianna Gomez
Photo:  Misty Thompson (left) stands with Laurie MacDonald (right) celebrating the garden opening.
May 2, 2021 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa Parks and Recreation Foundation opened its long-awaited community garden yesterday morning.
“Everybody’s been waiting so long and they’re so excited,” said Misty Thompson, Executive Director. “So many people just don’t have that opportunity to have a garden in their yard, they might live in an apartment or something and to give them this opportunity is just amazing.”

Both Executive Director Thompson and President Laurie MacDonald noted that the foundation raised $65,000 during a COVID year, which was an amazing feat for the community. 
“I think that’s pretty huge and I love the idea of just bringing the community together especially after we just went through this pandemic and we were all so isolated; I think so many people here just want to be together and just want to do something together and that’s what’s so special about this,” said MacDonald. 
County COVID regulations are in place in the garden. Masks are mandated, and a maximum of 50 people at one time is enforced. 
All ages are welcome in the garden from young children (accompanied by an adult) to senior citizens. 
The gardeners are allowed to come in during park hours and will also have access to the clubhouse, which has supplies like seeds and wheelbarrows. 
Michelle Langdon was another important member of the project. She is a La Mesa resident who is also a landscape designer. She designed and installed the garden, which is meticulously mapped out. 
Photo, right:  Langdon stands in front of the garden that she designed. 
Langdon has volunteered at the Lemon Ave Elementary School Garden for years where her daughters are enrolled, making her quite familiar with the whole process. 
“It was challenging because we had our meetings over zoom…it was a lot of volunteer work, we had socially distanced workdays, it did push our opening from where we initially were although not much,” said Langdon.
The beds were intentionally spaced six feet apart to adhere to COVID-19 safe guidelines.
“People showed up [to volunteer] and it was like a COVID-friendly activity,” Langdon added cheerfully. 
The work on this garden provided relief for volunteers who were able to meet safely outdoors during the construction phases. 
“The volunteers and everyone that put the labor in really made it all happen,” concluded Langdon. 
The project has been in the works for just over a year and was the success of several organizations working together including local rotary chapters, boy scouts, and girl scout troops.
One of the leading Girl Scouts on this project,  Melissa Rosa from Troop 6107 created planting guides for distribution in order to complete the Gold Award Project for her troop.

“The Gold Award is the highest level achievement you can make as a girl scout, she’s been in girls scouting for 13 years,” said Rosa’s mother, Donna Rosa who is also the troop leader. 
Photo, left:  Donna and Melissa Rosa pass out Melissa’s informative brochures.
“The commitment that you have and the hard work and due diligence and community service…we wanted to help out and give the garden something to educate people and kids about gardening and different healthy foods that you can make for yourself,” Donna Rosa added.
“This came out way nicer than I thought it would,” Melissa  said of her detailed brochure, shown below and also expected to be put up online.
The brochure schedule is helpful for all new gardeners even those with home gardens or those at other facilities. 

“It’s been a long task for the Garden Committee. They worked really hard….It’s just so nice to see it happen,” concluded Executive Director Thompson. 

To reserve a bed at the community garden, visit this link.

Photo, left: Lily (left) and Javier (right) from Sombrero Mexican Restaurant gave out free breakfast burritos to attendees.



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I can't help but wonder...

I wonder how the very hungry homeless and others will respond to these community gardens? In good times, this would be a great idea. Not sure about right now.