Gardening Know How Sponsorship Recipient: Oak Valley Youth Garden

This year, Gardening Know How's School and Community Garden Sponsorship Program was fortunate enough to help support 20 gardens with $1,000 each. These gardens represent a wide array of community and school programs, from Florida to Saskatchewan and many places in between. Each has its own unique and powerful story, and we're excited to share them with you. Every other week we try to highlight one of our sponsorship recipients to help spread the word about how amazing they really are. This week we're featuring the Oak Valley Youth Garden.

The Oak Valley Youth Garden started small in 2016. Located in Ripon, California, the program began by renting plots in a local community garden and opening them to children from the surrounding schools. Twice a month, kids aged two to twelve come to work in the garden - planting, maintaining, and harvesting vegetables for nearby food banks. They also participate in nature-based crafts and try new vegetables in tasting and cooking demonstrations.

It's a great setup, and one that's had a lot of positive impact on the community. It's the only free children's garden program in the Central Valley. But it has the potential to be so much more.

That's why the Oak Valley Youth Garden is expanding, building its own children's garden on a one-acre plot of land centrally located between the four schools it serves in downtown Ripon. Plans for this new garden include a low-water groundcover lawn area, 15 raised beds, a mini orchard, and a children's play area. The program leaders also hope to expand their children's programs, offer weekly garden sessions for students, and double their yearly food bank donations.

Work is already underway, with the Gardening Know How grant going toward an essential backflow prevention device, making way for the installation of an irrigation system. Soon the garden beds will be laid down and the planting can begin!

With the grant from Gardening Know How, the Oak Valley Youth Garden will be able to serve even more children in Ripon while giving back to the community with new green spaces and produce donations. We're proud to be able to help them realize their dream.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.