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Photo Zoë Strickland

Garden will stay at its current location through 2021, at which time it will need to relocate

Cloverdale’s beloved community garden is looking to relocate. The garden, located on a one-acre parcel downtown on South Cloverdale Boulevard, will continue operating at its current location through the end of the year. After which, the current property owners plan to put the undeveloped parcel up for sale.

“We’re going to continue to operate the garden through this growing season, the summertime and then probably wind down sometime in the fall,” said Ron Pavelka, director of special projects for the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, in an interview at the end of April.

The chamber helps facilitate the garden and pays for some of its expenses, including insurance. The garden itself is run by volunteers and community members, many of who are members of Cloverdale’s Green Thumb Garden Club.

Pavelka said that the property owners have been “absolutely wonderful” when it comes to letting the garden use the current space and that the decision to sell the land is one that doesn’t come as a surprise.

“(The Wise family) has been accommodating, we are very happy with what they’ve allowed us to do and they let us know early on, quite a few years ago, that they would eventually be selling the property,” Pavelka said.

According to Pavelka, the property owners are looking to try and sell the one-acre property in early 2022, therefor the garden will need to vacate by the end of the year.

The garden was started by the senior center in 2010, it switched management in 2014 and then again in 2017, when the chamber came forward to take over.

“The goals of the community garden are … to provide a sanctuary or a place for people in the community to gather and to grow fresh food for themselves and/or for the community, and also a space for us to educate,” Pavelka said.

Eventually, the goal is to find a way to engage with the school district and possibly the local Boys & Girls Club to teach youth about sustainable gardening.

Even through the pandemic, the garden has continued to grow. Last summer, Cindi Buell helped put in a “Take a Plant, Leaf a Plant” station at the front of the garden where community members could trade plants in a socially distanced way, like a green-thumb version of a Little Free Library.

While daily and weekly gardening work continues on South Cloverdale Boulevard, Pavelka said that he’s actively looking for a new gardening space.

“We do have three different potential opportunities in the community and we can work through those and see how we can make those spots work,” he said, noting that some of the offered land sits outside of city limits.

Pavelka said that he’s hoping that a piece of land will become available for use that’s centrally located, ideally with enough space that would allow the garden to be a learning hub for the community.

“The ideal new space would be similar to what they have in Windsor, which would be a couple of acres of park-like setting where we could have demonstration areas for seminars, where we could have food plots for individual families or groups that wanted to have their own food plots, and then have a general garden where volunteers could work and share some of the food they grow in the garden,” he said, noting that right now some of the vegetables and herbs in the garden are given to different underserved groups in town. “And then also a space we could set aside to develop a place where people who are physically challenged could garden and enjoy the space. That would be the ultimate.”

The next best thing, he said, would be a space similar to where the community garden is now — an acre or so of land that community members can utilize both for gardening and, on a more condensed level, use for classes and other gardening-related events.

“I believe we’ll be able to find some space — it might not be the ideal space, but at the end of the day we want to be able to provide a space for the community to garden and a place where we can educate,” he said.

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