NCO Logo


Community Gardens Celebrate 10 Years

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Gardens Project of North Coast Opportunities (NCO) is celebrating its 10 year anniversary with a garden party on Friday, September 15 at Vinewood Park in Ukiah.

The Gardens Project officially launched in 2007 with the goal of expanding access to food by developing a diverse network of gardens at preschools, near low-income and senior housing, on tribal land, and with faith-based organizations. Over the past decade, the project has developed a total of 42 gardens in Lake and Mendocino Counties. “These gardens are wonderful and productive resources for our community,” says Gardens Project Manager Ava Ryan. Literal tons of vegetables are produced each year, with an estimated 30,000 pounds of food grown in 2016. “The gardeners report being more food secure and having a stronger sense of community,” says Ryan.

In addition to providing access to land to grow food, the project aims to establish low-income people as stakeholders in their communities through leadership and community empowerment trainings. In 2011, using a USDA Community Food Projects grant, an intensive 11 month leadership program was developed for up to 20 garden leaders at a time. The training was offered in the Ukiah Valley in 2012, in Willits 2013, and on the Mendocino Coast in 2014. Leadership trainings help make the project stable by building the capacity of the gardeners to manage their own gardens, as well as creating a network of community leaders across dozens of gardens.

In 2015, the Gardens Project received its second USDA Community Food Projects grant, which it has used in Lake County to develop gardens and replicate the leadership training model. “We’re already seeing great success in Lake County,” says Ryan. “A community garden brings so much to the people it serves, and we always have requests to build more.”

The anniversary party is from 3-8 pm in Ukiah’s Vinewood Park, which is also home to one of the community gardens. It includes a garden tour, kids’ events, live music, appetizers and dinner, beer and wine, a silent auction, a pie contest, and a raffle. Tickets are $30 in advance or $40 at the door; kids under 3 are free, and ages 3-15 pay just $10. Tickets are available for sale at, as well as at the Mendocino Book Company and the Westside Renaissance Market in Ukiah.

For more information, contact Sarah Marshall at