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May be model for future City of Manteca efforts
This grass area adjacent to the fire station on Lathrop Road next to the Del Webb neighborhood will be converted into the City of Manteca’s first community garden.

Manteca’s first community garden will be created in a grassy area adjacent to the fire station on Lathrop Road at the Madison Grove Drive entrance to the Del Webb neighborhood.

The seed money to put the necessary infrastructure in place is coming from $20,000 in federal COVID relief funds allocated by Councilman Mike Morowit.

The location is within his council district.

“This could be a model for future community gardens elsewhere (on city property),” noted Fire Chief Dave Marques.

The fire chief has been selected by City Manager Toni Lundgren to serve as the project manager.

Marques will oversee the conversion of the site, installation of infrastructure, and the design.

The city will then turn the garden over to a community-based group to operate.

Marques envisions a farm-to-table food component.

That could include a 10 to 15 foot long table used to serve food grown and prepared from the garden to small gatherings.

There also will be decorative fencing of some type to keep “creatures” such as dogs out of the garden.

Work is expected to start on the garden next year.

The objective of the garden, from the city’s perspective, is multi-faceted.

*It would use under-utilized parcels to allow people who do not have the land to grow vegetables.

*It could be used as an educational forum, not just on how to raise vegetables, but nutrition as well as how to prepare vegetables and other dishes.

*Produce could go to help supply households in need or organizations that work with those struggling to put food on the table by providing fresh produce.

*It would make wiser use of water. The landscaping at the fire station serves no other purpose than to be eye candy.

 The fire station has a community room that could, if needed, be used to provide classes or seminars for programs connected with the community garden.

Marques said the city decided the best way to start community gardens was for the city to have everything in place and then turn it over to a non-profit to run.

The city has a number of parcels that are too small for other uses that could be used as community gardens assuming extending water is not an issue.

They are among parcels the city needs to pay a firm to weed abate on an annual basis.

One such parcel is at Louise Avenue and the railroad tracks.

The $20,000 was part of $2.5 million in federal COVID funds that were split between Mayor Gary Singh and the four council members to allocate toward endeavors to provide the community with the city may not otherwise be able to do.

It was what remained of $13 million the city received in federal help to cover COVID-19 related expenses such as public safety personnel overtime, loss of tax revenue caused by mandatory closures, and money the city spent on other one-time purchases such as new street maintenance equipment.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email