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Donated land hosts Junipero neighborhood growing area

Mya Host, 5, looks inside a sunflower in the Junipero Neighborhood Garden on Monday at the 100 block of West Avenida Junipero. Photo: Eric Heinz
Mya Host, 5, looks inside a sunflower in the Junipero Neighborhood Garden on Monday at the 100 block of West Avenida Junipero. Photo: Eric Heinz

By Eric Heinz

The residents of the 100 block of West Avenida Junipero recently joined together to create a community garden.

Paul Waterman, the inheritor of a vacant lot on the block, allowed the families of West Avenida Junipero to plan, construct and plant the Arlie Waterman Memorial Community Garden. Arlie Waterman was San Clemente’s first Parks and Recreation director, according to the email.

“We have a lot of people and couples who come by and check it out,” block resident and organizer Kristine Kelly said. “We have a really good email system with everybody on our street.”

Kelly said 11 families have joined the garden since mid-May.

The garden beds cost about $200 to construct altogether, she said.

Currently, the Avenida Junipero community garden is completely occupied, but Kelly said it doesn’t take too much effort for other neighborhoods to start their own.

“Just try to find a vacant lot (with permission) and a couple areas, even if it’s in your yard where you’ve taken out the grass,” Kelly said. “Maybe a couple families have come together and built a little box where you can’t water (the lawn) anymore.”

About 10 children have participated in keeping the garden maintained, and it is wheelchair-accessible. The garden plants are all non-GMO, Kelly said.

“It’s just a good representation of the neighborhood,” Kelly said. “I’ve already grown a lot of string beans.”

More people are trying to get gardens around town, such as Trestles Community Outreach in the South El Camino Real neighborhoods.

The Cellar in San Clemente also has been exploring community garden use for restaurant purposes.

Holly Oxford, a West Avenida Junipero resident, said she has garden beds at her home but wanted to join the community garden as well.

“I knew that it’s fun and come out and see everybody while you’re watering,” Oxford said. “It just brings people out of their house and it’s a fun little social scene. It gave our neighborhood a renewed sense of community.”

To learn more about the community gardens, visit Junipero Neighborhood Garden on Facebook.

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