About 6 years ago I tried to get a garden in San Pedro All Year Community Gardens. I walked around and found some gardeners. They did not speak English, so I communicated as best as I could with them. I was told the guy would be there on Monday’s and drove a white truck – to look for him. I did, and found him.
He was a complete fraud. He wanted cash up-front and he said there was a 5 year wait to get a garden, and once again did not speak English. I felt uneasy about all of these barriers to entry.
When I refused to pay his extra demands in cash to get my name ahead of the others, he just wrote my name on a broke piece of paper and his Englished seemed to get progessively worst with me and then communication was difficult. It was obvious, there was pay-to-garden policy going on at the time and preferential treatment taking place.
This after this, this went on for 3 more years or so. The city then came in an took over. There were complaints about the garden and the city stepped in.
This was good and bad. The city became more aware of the problems. Nicole Deering, City Services Manager, was listed as the contact person for the city. She was over-whelmed with the issues and how to correct them.
Part of the reason, is there is a “board” and a person named Carlos is responsible for some issues and reporting back to Nicole Deering. This is an unoffical role, and between the 2 of them there is no accountability. About 80% of the gardeners do not like how Carlos advocates for the gardeners. He must be completely removed as he is a remnant of the of regime of pay-to-garden. Not only that, he allows gardeners he has known for many years to break garden rules on the contract we all signed when getting a garden.
Garden meetings are never recorded and only certain people are invited. This must be changed also. All gardeners should be notified and allowed to attend. The decisions affect all gardeners and being able to take part gives gardeners a sense of belonging.
Even though the city is in charge of the gardens now, they must include the gardeners who want to improve the San Pedro Community Gardens. Otherwise, this will not work out as well as it can.