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Larson Park garden celebrates March 15

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The Larson Park Community Food Garden opens its gates for a celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 15, to welcome all neighbors to view the cultivation and the on-going improvements taking place as the garden begins its second year of operation.

The Sonoma Valley’s newest community garden will set up tables with children’s activities, expert gardening advice, an opportunity to swap seeds, and a chance to register for use of a raised garden bed at the site.

The day’s events will include a take-home craft project for kids to make. Three sessions for making a “soda bottle garden” wicking pot will be offered at 11 a.m., noon, and 1 p.m.

The Community Food Garden is located at Larson Park in Boyes Hot Springs and is accessed through neighborhood streets reached via Boyes Boulevard to De Chene Street or via Highway 12 in the vicinity of Flowery School.

Also available will be background information on the evolution of the Larson Park Community Food Garden idea from planted half barrels to today’s group effort with 26 raised garden beds.

The Larson Park Community Food Garden was created through the actions of public and private participants starting in 2009.

Today its activities are managed by the local nonprofit, Nuestra Voz de Sonoma.

“The garden provides families in the Springs area a place to grow healthful food at a centrally located place where they can socialize and engage in outdoor activities,” said Alejandra Cervantes, executive director of Neustra Voz.

Enhancements added by Nuestra Voz to the Community Food Garden’s site since last year include eight new raised beds, a shed, permanent herb plantings, and the start of a composting project.

“We’ve planted marigolds, sunflowers, and flowering herbs like red sage and blue rosemary to attract bees and other pollinators and we are looking forward to doing more of this,” Cervantes said.

Today each raised garden bed at Larson Park is of suitable size for planting enough tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers, greens, pole and bush beans and other plants to carry home for many meals. As the UC Cooperative Extension states, “Community gardens boost consumption of fresh produce, can save participants hundreds of dollars per season in food costs, and … provide nutrition education that increases healthy cooking and eating.”

As spring approaches, the Larson Park Community Garden is looking forward to another summer growing season. “We placed third among 15 participating community gardens in the Sonoma County’s second annual “Grateful Bed” competition in August 2013, and that was a great encouragement. Last summer’s surprises included enough calabasas squash to make Halloween jack-o-lanterns and decor for Day of the Dead altars. Now we are harvesting the cool weather vegetables planted in autumn – kale, chard, radishes, bok choy, garlic, onions … In the coming weeks we’ll be planting seeds for summer’s crops. This will include the herbs and plants necessary for making salsas,” Cervantes said.

On the same day in a Larson Park sports field nearby, Nuestra Voz is sponsoring a free soccer clinic. In addition to the 10 a.m. to noon soccer clinic, there will be all day registration for the spring and summer soccer teams for children 5-to-16-years-old.

Larson Park is part of the Sonoma County Regional Park system.

Nuestra Voz of Sonoma is a nonprofit organization with programs serving the Sonoma Valley community for 13 years. Programs center on providing healthful activities for residents, including aerobics and martial arts classes, competitive and recreational soccer, traditional ethnic arts classes, scholarships, education on healthy food choices, a new community food garden, leadership opportunities and community outreach.

Call Nuestra Voz at 939-9369 for additional information.