Kinship Sprouts at Martinelli Children’s Community Garden

It was the perfect day to dig in the dirt. A little cloud cover kept the temperature down and the forecasted showers held off until the evening. Twelve families worked alongside each other, tilling the soil and planting the seeds and seedlings that will provide the neighborhood a bounty of fresh produce in the months to come.

Martinelli Children's Community Garden

Ana Rasmussen, Founder and Program Director of Mesa Verde Gardens, held a How to Start a Garden event at the brand new Martinelli Children’s Community Garden on Saturday, April 23rd. Located on the property of All Saints Episcopal Church in Watsonville, the quarter-acre garden contains 16X20 garden plots for 30 families. The majority of community garden members are parents with preschool-aged children.

Ana Rasmussen and friend

On Saturday, Ana, some friends, and a team of volunteers from the UC Santa Cruz apprentice program worked one-on-one with local families to help them design and start their own vegetable gardens. A large quantity of seeds and seedlings were donated, including everything from tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, lettuce and spinach, to pumpkins, carrots and cucumbers. Gardeners were encouraged to bring their own favorites as well.

Patrick (center) and friends

One of the volunteers, Patrick, talked about how community gardens build unity among neighbors. “Everyone has something to share, to teach others, it’s a learning experience that brings people together in nature.”

Working together

“This is new for me,” said one mom. “My kids really wanted to have a garden so I said, okay let’s do it.”

Planting a row

Mesa Verde Gardens is using part of the acreage for a demo garden, where Ana plans to have gardening experts give workshops from time to time. There are even plans for a farm stand. But on Saturday, the main thing was helping the families get their plants in the ground.

Clearly thrilled with the turnout, Ana said, “With so much people power and the enormous amount of donated plants, we now have 13 gardens fully planted and growing.”

Thanks to the local businesses, agencies and individuals that helped make the Martinelli Children’s Community Garden come to fruition.

Finding a good spot

About Mesa Verde Gardens

The mission of Mesa Verde Gardens is to empower low-income residents of Santa Cruz County to meet the immediate and basic need for food security by increasing their access to pesticide-free fresh fruits and vegetables through the creation of small sustainable gardens. Mesa Verde Gardens’ programs help low-income people achieve equal access to fresh healthy food by joining with them to build and maintain their own year-round organic edible gardens, thus improving health and lowering food costs.

Having recently completed its tenth pesticide-free garden at preschools serving low-income children, the organization is focused on creating additional community gardens across neighborhoods of need in collaboration with the City of Watsonville, Second Harvest Food Bank, and other key stakeholders.

For more information, contact Ana Rasmussen at (831) 325-3560 or

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