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June 5, 2023

Community Garden Grows a Following

City of Scotts Valley seems to have something for everyone. From dining to theater to shopping, locals are able to enjoy a variety of options and opportunities, but there’s one hidden gem that few people know about: the Annette Marcum Community Garden.

Ali Robinson, the city’s recreation division manager, is up to her ears in tomatoes, watermelons and herbs thanks to a community effort to bring sustainable gardening to Scotts Valley. Tucked away between the Senior Center and Community Center near Skypark, the garden is a place where 40 residents let their green thumbs shine, and all residents come together to share the joy of the outdoors and the opportunity to grow.

“Our Community Garden members have a designated plot assigned for each year starting in February (in time for the spring season). Gardeners get to choose which plot they would like—some are small, corner spots; some are better for hanging vines, and the raised beds are best suited for those with limited mobility since it means less bending over,” Robinson said. “Several of our plots are multigenerational with a grown adult helping their senior parent have a gardening experience. Since some seniors don’t have a space at home to garden, they thrive in the garden knowing they have somewhere to be and food they can take home and share.”

Robinson says the small plot of Parks and Recreation property hosts 45 garden beds in varying sizes, complete with a scarecrow that keeps watch over the crops. Built in 2014, the wood around the raised beds had begun to rot, and the flowers and veggies were starting to suffer: enter Newt Gardens, a full-service gardening purveyor located in Santa Cruz that specializes in supporting native habitat and ecosystems. 

Over the course of eight days, the garden was rehabbed with a new design, better waterflow and sustainable redwood, providing a setting expected to last 15 years.

Participating in the garden is an inexpensive way to ensure there’s always a host of fresh food on the table. At just $1/square foot per year, folks can manage a raised bed plot for $10 to $16; standard plots run from $36 to $109 per year. 

Robinson is pleased to provide the community with the opportunity to get their hands dirty. 

“With many people not having a yard or living in multifamily units, apartments, assisted living, there is still an option to connect with the land, grow your own fresh food or beautiful flowers and there is a community of welcoming neighbors who come to a shared space to take part in the joy of gardening,” she said. “This raised beds project is an example of the City and Recreation putting attention into our recreation amenities thinking about a quality, sustainable way so they last into the future.”

With the revamp of the garden complete, the next step is a search for signage, and once again, it’s a community-based affair. Robinson and her team are searching for a unique design, created by a talented local artis. The sign must be 20 inches tall and 6 feet long, and will read “Annette Marcum Scotts Valley Community Garden.”

The winner, selected by the gardeners, will receive $250 and have their artwork featured for the next five years atop the garden’s entrance.

Want to leave your mark in Scotts Valley? All graphic design entries for the garden signage are due by March 15; submissions can be sent to [email protected], and the winning design will be announced on March 31.

Christina Wise
Christina Wise covers politics, education, art & culture, and housing issues. She has a degree in Communication from San Diego State University, and has lived in the San Lorenzo Valley since 1996. She's a community advocate and a mother of two.


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