NCO Logo


NCO’s Gardens Project Seeks Volunteers

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Gardens Project of North Coast Opportunities has been steadily working throughout the spring and summer to build two new community gardens in Lake County.  The Highland Senior Center Garden in Clearlake has been renovated and revitalized, and has been split into a production garden for the senior center’s meal program and a community garden for Clearlake residents. A second garden has been built in Clearlake at the Praises of Zion Baptist Church for use by the church congregation and residents of the Avenues neighborhood.  These gardens are meant to provide a place to grow food for community members who do not have access to land.

With the help of volunteers, new irrigation systems have been installed and a total of 18 new raised beds have been built at the Highlands Senior Center and Praises of Zion Garden; however, there is still much work to be done. According to Lake County Gardens Project Coordinator Ava Ryan, they need additional volunteers to build fences, tool sheds, and message kiosks as well as finish up minor garden tasks. For these large projects, “We rely on volunteers to get the job done because the work requires so many hands and so many different skill sets. The more volunteers we have the faster we can get a garden up and running,” says Ryan. In particular, Ryan is looking for volunteers with experience in construction and fencing and irrigation installation, but she also uses volunteers to fill raised beds and teach gardening workshops and will “put whatever skills you have to use somewhere.”

According to Ryan, volunteering with the Gardens Project offers an excellent opportunity to give back and get to know your community. Gardens Project volunteer Newman Lanier moved from the East Coast to Lake County and had only read about community gardens. He volunteered to learn more about gardening and to meet other gardeners. Of a Highland Senior Center Garden workday, Lanier says, “It was great fun to meet everyone and lend a hand.  Working along with other volunteers and organizers, I felt a sense of pride growing about Clearlake.  Especially seeing the future design of the garden, I felt like I was a part of something bigger, something that I could take part in.”

Volunteer Rob Shurgis agrees that the Gardens Project allows community members to be a part of a greater movement. According to Shurgis, "Volunteering for the Gardens Project promotes healthy eating and local sustainable practices. We can teach the next generation to grow their own food without relying on the food industry often grown with synthetic chemicals and machines from thousands of miles away."  Ryan agrees, saying that volunteers of all ages have the opportunity to learn valuable life skills that can also be used to boost one’s resume and work experience.

Interested volunteers or gardeners should contact Project Coordinator Ava Ryan at or 707-994-4647 ext. 131.

Program(s) Involved: The Gardens Project