The vacant lot on the corner of Second Street and Central Avenue in Buellton will be the future home of a community garden for city residents to grow their own fruit, vegetables, flowers, and other plants.
Annie Yakutis attended the meeting to speak on behalf of the group, which she explained is made up of several Buellton locals, “all of whom love gardening, but lack the land to really do so as completely as we’d like to.”
The lot is located within “walking distance to almost all high-density housing in the city,” said Yakutis, who believes the site will appeal to community members living in apartment buildings, town homes, and condos that offer residents little to no garden space.
Yakutis said that the nonprofit has enough “person power” to build and maintain the proposed garden, thanks to support from volunteers and a handful of local organizations, but is requesting that Buellton provide water to the site.
Buellton City Manager Scott Wolfe explained during the meeting that staff would need direction from the City Council on whether or not to study the matter further, determine the anticipated cost of the water needed, and draft a formal agreement for use of the property.
Councilmember Elysia Lewis and Vice Mayor David King both expressed support of the project and concerns over potential security issues.
Lewis said that the garden should “be locked up at night, because I think that it could be a trouble center,” if some people choose not to respect the space. King agreed.
“You can imagine people saying, ‘Oh look, tomatoes,’ and just going to help themselves to a few,” King said. “And all the people that did the hard work to grow those, take care of them, and water them come back the next day and all the tomatoes are gone.”
Yakutis said that the nonprofit plans to close off the site after sunset each evening, while the garden’s overall design and layout is not yet set in stone.
Members of the Buellton Community Garden group recently collaborated with Buellton Planning Commissioner and Cal Poly professor Aaron Liggett, who assigned students of his landscape architecture class to develop concept proposals for the site. Students were split into nine teams and visited the vacant lot at the beginning of April.
Those proposals are available to view on the nonprofit’s website, buelltongarden.org. Mayor Holly Sierra said that she was impressed with the students’ concepts.
“What the designs all showed me is that for our little plot of land, it could be something that looks much larger than it is,” Sierra said.
Members of the Buellton City Council agreed to allow the nonprofit to use the vacant lot and direct staff to start its evaluation process on the project.
“It’s a slow process, everything takes time,” Sierra said. “It’s a ways off from a ribbon cutting, but boy, I sure hope I’m around to be there when they cut the ribbon to a community garden.”