There are no walls or fences surrounding the two-acre Ripon Community Garden located smack-dab in the middle of a local Ripon residential neighborhood. But the garden has become a beloved community landmark since its beginnings in 2016.
The non-profit garden includes 92 4' x 10' wooden garden boxes. Seventy-five boxes are available to rent for $40 per year to folks (refundable to the gardener upon departure from the garden) to grow their own fresh fruits, veggies, and flowers to their hearts desire. Twelve boxes are harvested to provide fresh produce for the Ripon Senior Center and Bethany Homes, and four boxes for the “Sprouts” children garden, maintained by the local Girl Scout Troop.
Each garden bed has its own irrigation system. They can be tended by one person while others may have several gardeners working together. Children and their parents share some garden beds as well.
Gardeners include those new to growing produce as well as seasoned gardeners who grow their favorite tomatoes, herbs, fruits and veggies, as well as flowers.
The garden site includes an enclosed chicken coop for its egg-laying chickens. The chicken coop is a delight to many “city” children who may have never seen chickens.
Joan Graham, a former garden box holder, took over the garden's operation a few years ago and loves being outdoors, helping gardeners and their many different types of produce, flowers, and herbs grown in their gardens. Joan keeps a “waiting list” for those interested in renting a garden box.
She gets a helping hand from Karen Talbot, Harvest Coordinator, who oversees harvesting produce from the cherry, nectarine, aprium (a cross between apricots and plums), lemon, and lime trees. She also helps during planting season. Karen also heads the Harvest Team, cleaning boxes after the harvest, and once a gardener vacates a garden box.
The garden also includes fruit trees such as peaches, persimmons (both Fuyu and Hachiya). The harvested produce is available to box holders or others. According to Joan, the garden is unable to charge for the garden grown produce unless it sold as a fundraiser.
There is “plenty of support” for the Ripon Community Garden from various local businesses and organizations, said Joan, from financial donations, as well as in-kind donations such as seeds and discounts on needed garden tools and items. Even the local Boy Scout Troop has found the Ripon Community Garden a great place to volunteer.
Board Vice President Penny Hansen produces a monthly newsletter for box holders and it posted on the garden bulletin board for visitors to read.
The garden is open daily for the community to visit and enjoy. Visitors can walk through the garden (please no picking of produce), enjoy the shade under the pergola, have lunch on one of the picnic tables, and appreciate the serenity, peace, and beauty of the garden.