A piece of paradise
Teglia’s Paradise Park Community Garden
Teglia’s Paradise Park Community Garden is peaceful at midday. It’s still a bit too cold to be considered a paradise, but with a pond nearby and the sounds of birds rustling in the trees, it’s relaxing, even with busy streets surrounding it on all sides.
And while the garden is still in winter-mode and appears quite brown, master gardener Jennifer Fox anticipates its vibrancy once the spring season settles in.
“It will be really nice in late spring, once we plant some new vegetables and flowers,” she says. “When the plots are filled, it’s really a nice atmosphere.”
Davene Kaplan, a Renoite for more than 30 years, helped found the garden 15 years ago.
“It’s the longest community garden in the area,” she says. “We started it after we rehabbed Paradise Park. That was one section that got left out of the renovation, so we took it over.”
Kaplan cites the nearby senior center, elementary school and apartment complexes as groups ideal for community gardens. While most of the food grown in the garden is consumed by the gardeners, many donate their cultivations to food banks.
“It’s great for people who live in duplexes or condos, or who don’t have a lot of sun or don’t have as much space to plant anything,” says Fox.
And it’s cheap, too—$10 per plot, or $15 for two.
Fox says that the garden was full just three years ago, but participation has dropped since then—last year, only half of the plots were rented. She says many people are unsure about the time commitment.
“Gardening can be hard, and it’s time consuming, and sometimes people get frustrated, especially with how unpredictable the weather is,” says Fox. “But we just tell them, if your tomatoes get wiped out by a late frost, it’s OK. Just start over again.”
Currently, the garden is open from late April to October. Fox hopes that with enough community interest, plots will be available year round for people who grow food seasonally. While there are no formal classes, experienced gardeners “are more than happy to help anyone out,” according to Fox.
“If there are gardeners who are completely green, we do our best to get them the resources they need.”
Kaplan acknowledges that the garden only thrives when the community is passionate about it.
“It’s hard work,” says Kaplan, “I think at first people are really interested in it. It’s a big commitment. People are extremely busy. You have to be into it. It really is a labor of love to grow things in this area.”
The garden provides 53 plots to plant produce, herbs or flowers, but pumpkins, corn and other vine plants are not allowed. Neither are chemical pesticides, but organic means of pest control can be used. Some of the plots have irrigation, but Fox notes that people are willing to water other’s gardens if gardeners are out of town. Four raised beds are wheelchair accessible, and three large group plots are available for organizations, classrooms or companies.