Community garden springs up in Chula Vista

“It's about people…. The kids don’t even know where their food comes from.”

Scrawny saplings are in the ground in rows — apple, peach, avocado, tangerine — and a gardener says you may be able to pick fruit from these trees two years from now.

Landscaping tools are being packed up and locked up as a crew of three looks out at the school playground swing set they've disassembled. The equipment is to go up on Craigslist for sale.

Proceeds are aimed at ensuring that the fruit trees thrive on an acre or so of land near Fifth Avenue and L Streets in Chula Vista, near the youth center. Dozens of 12´-by-4´ garden plots are being prepared.

“It's not about food,” says Jorge Garcia, pastor of the Gracia y Paz Covenant Church in Chula Vista, where this long-neglected church-owned land is turning into the Mosaic Community Garden. “It's about people…. The kids don’t even know where their food comes from.”

Irrigation trenches have been dug by the crew of construction-industry interns that will be preparing as many as 65 over the next few weeks.

The playground on the far west side — with slides and a jungle gym and matting on the ground that cushions falls — will remain.

A hardy cluster of kale sprouts from a disused plot are ready for rehabilitation. Two scarecrows lie face up nearby.

The garden is on land that was once the field and playground for a primary school operated by the previous owner, the South Bay Baptist Church. “This was full of weeds,” said Garcia, surveying the land.

Now, aside from being a vegetable and flower garden, a playground for kids, and a community gathering place, the garden is to be a “living laboratory” that exposes students to (among other things) computer-aided agriculture, said Mosaic gardener Judy Jacoby.

A grant from the San Diego Foundation enabled Mosaic to purchase sensors that measure air and soil temperatures, humidity levels, ground moisture, general soil conditions, sunlight, and so on — data to be analyzed for creating optimal conditions for growth and yield.

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