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Citizen pitches municipal Victory Garden concept

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POSTED April 11, 2009 5:05 a.m.
George Vitek believes times are hard enough for Manteca leaders to consider reviving a Depression Era and World War II strategy – Victory Gardens.

The Manteca resident pitched his idea before the City Council earlier this week. He suggested that the city could plant fruit trees along the Tidewater Bikeway or other city locations. The fruit could then be gleaned to help feed those who are dealing with unemployment as well as soaring food prices.

Vitek said he was thinking about using that approach that was prevalent in his youth in his own yard by removing grass and replace it with vegetables.

Several council members contacted after the meeting said the concept is good but it had the potential of creating big problems with vandals picking fruit and throwing it.
What has been working with some success are groups such as Crossroads Grace Community Church stepping up to the plate and harvesting excessive fruit on trees in homeowners’ yards. From one yard a month ago, they secured a truckload of citrus.

A windshield survey of several neighborhoods Friday counted no less than 18 trees that were still heavily laden with oranges and grapefruit. Many homeowners tend to let the fruit rot as they don’t have use for such high volumes that mature trees yield.

The church has been turning the fruit over to emergency food banks serving San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

Some cities in the Bay Area have made patches of unused parks and other city property that has access to water available for community groups to plant vegetable gardens.

Such property typically has to be in fairly dense neighborhoods plus have a well-organized community-based group to oversee it.

Should the city go through with the cost savings strategy of closing down small, under used parks, one potential candidate for a “Victory Garden” would be the Elm Avenue and North Street mini-park underneath the electrical power tower. It has water and would simply need the grass removed and protective fencing.
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