by Jesse Hirsch
In honor of César Chávez Day last weekend, the Phat Beets Produce collective implemented the second half of its improvement plan for the Healthy Hearts Garden at Dover Street Park in North Oakland (57th and Dover streets). After receiving final city sign-off the week before, about fifty volunteers came together to complete the park’s edible landscaping.
In 2010, Phat Beets partnered with the Neighbors of Dover Street Park to provide fruits and vegetables for the obesity reduction clinic at Oakland’s Children’s Hospital and Research Center. In mid-2011 the community garden project hit a snag when the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission voted that Phat Beets would need to obtain a $2,900 conditional use permit to continue the operation.
This was no small chunk of change for a grassroots nonprofit, but the city finally ruled that Phat Beets could continue building the edible landscapes without obtaining the permit. The park is about one acre total, with a twenty-foot outer perimeter now entirely devoted to fruit trees and edible plants. The trees include apples, pears, plums, apricots, and white figs, while other plants include gooseberries, tomatillos, artichokes, and much more.
The garden’s design incorporates a strong aesthetic sense, in addition to a focus on suitable produce for Oakland’s particular climate. All the plants are volunteer-tended, with two work days a week on Sundays and Wednesdays. Produce still goes to the obesity reduction clinic, as well as a free weekly harvest for neighborhood residents and other noble programs. “We’ve never had a surplus,” said Max Cadji of Phat Beets.
To get involved with the Healthy Hearts Garden (or any other Phat Beets project), email firstname.lastname@example.org, subject “Volunteer.”
Comments? Tips? Get in touch at Jesse.Hirsch@EastBayExpress.com.