If you have time to spare today and you enjoy getting your hands dirty, you are welcome to stop by anytime at the community garden in progress at Sequoia Elementary School.
Tom Powell and Tom Canales of the Manteca Garden Club will be there finishing the community project of Give Every Child a Chance (GECAC), which is to resurrect a garden that once thrived on one side of the campus located at Martha Street.
“We were approached by GECAC to see if we had anyone to help them design the garden. I asked our club and Tom (Canales) and Tom (Powell) raised their hand and quickly became really involved,” said garden club president Paula Elias. “Members are also volunteering items, too, in addition to our club donating money.”
Some of the work being done today includes digging a trench where 40 to 60 feet, “maybe 100 linear feet of PVC” pipes for watering the garden will be installed. This will be in addition to other irrigation pipes that have been previously installed.
The other chores that need to be done today include weeding and shoveling debris. They already have shovels and a couple of metal rakes, but they could use more, Powell said. Any volunteers who would like to lend some manpower today are asked to bring along additional metal rakes and shovels to speed up the work. A wheelbarrow and a trash can would be really helpful too, added Powell.
The area where the community garden is being literally planted is about a third of an acre space next to the school. The garden project is being built on a 30-foot by 40-foot space, probably about 1,000 square feet, said Powell. Another section at the other side of the shed on the property is not part of the current project, but it’s something that a group, like Boy Scouts looking to earn a merit badge, could do as a community project, he said.
They could also use some soil to fill the two redwood-raised beds where they intend to plant some vegetables and a few flower plants for color.
A lot of the hard work that have been completed by Powell and Canales include the removal of all the old debris, dead trees, bushes, tumbleweeds, and old irrigation valves, cleaning out the metal shed, disking the entire area, replacing the old electrical outlet, replacing old hose bibs, and installing nine irrigation lines with 12-station automated valve controller put in place. They have also reclaimed the old garden’s two old 8-foot circular beds. Now thriving in these two planters are tomatoes, peppers, basils and marigold all growing under automated drip irrigation, Powell and Canales report.
They have already constructed the first two of six 4x12-foot gopher-proof raised beds.
“There’s still much more to be done but we’ve made a good start and should be ready to plant some summer/fall veggies (brussel sprouts, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and spinach) starting in the next few weeks,” Canales reported in an e-mail to the club members.
The group has been receiving some plant donations from generous individuals in the community as well. These include a dwarf Bing cherry tree, chrysanthemums, strawberry plants, photinias, and even an Oriental Spruce.
The community garden will be used mainly as an educational tool for teachers and students alike, as opposed to a production garden. The plan includes installing park benches around the garden so staff or students can enjoy the garden atmosphere while enjoying their snacks or lunch.
The garden work crew will be at the Sequoia garden starting at 7:30 in the morning until the temperatures get too hot, which is probably around noon. The garden area is located on the east side of the school. Park on the Martha Street front side of the school and a gate will be on your left side leading to the garden area.