Today’s blog comes from our Development and Marketing Coordinator, Sarah! Each April and September, she looks forward to the opportunity to shed light on the diversity of our countywide cleanup sites and the dedicated site captains that lead them. Read on to learn more about how one of our Coastal Cleanup Day sites, the Tijuana River Valley Community Garden, is going above and beyond the typical cleanup to benefit their local community.
Get to know the Tijuana River Valley Community Garden
Ann Baldridge, Coastal Cleanup Day site captain and Education Coordinator for the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County, oversees the largest community garden in the County, the Tijuana River Valley Community Garden. The garden has 136 gardening plots that reflect the local community. Community members of all ages, young families to retirees, come to the garden to plant everything from your standard lettuce and tomatoes to culturally significant foods that represent the diversity of the surrounding communities. The plots have become so popular that there are currently 150 individuals and families on a wait list to receive a plot.
Ann shared that one of the most unique aspects of the garden is that it is a hidden gem within a regional park. Visitors of the regional park often mention that they had no idea this garden existed. Click here to learn more about the garden and how you, too, can find this local garden.
So, why does a community garden have its own cleanup site?
While the garden itself is beautiful, other parts of the river valley are significantly affected by illegal dumping and littering. As you can imagine, trash negatively impacts the local environment and the garden that feeds the local community. Before joining I Love A Clean San Diego for their first Coastal Cleanup Day in 2013, the RCD, Park staff, and plot holders at the community garden were already coordinating regular cleanups along the Tijuana River. When the team heard about Coastal Cleanup Day, they were inspired by the international movement and they knew that wanted to be a part of something bigger.
After years of leading these cleanups, Ann and her volunteers have found everything from construction debris and furniture to cigarette butts and abandoned shoes. When it rains, all that trash gets flushed through waterways straight to the ocean, resulting in unsafe conditions and frequent beach closures. When we remove the trash beforehand at cleanup sites like the Tijuana River, thousands of pounds of pollutants are kept from contaminating our beloved coastline and Pacific Ocean.
Trash removal is a large part of this annual event, however, it will not be the only focus at this site. Thanks to SDG&E employee volunteers, the community garden will have extra volunteer power this year to help expand the capacity of the garden. SDG&E volunteers will work alongside local residents to mulch trails, construct new compost bins, plant a new pollinator garden as well as build two new garden plots for local residents to grow their own nutritious food. Talk about sustainability!
If you’ve never visited the garden, Ann encourages you to come out for Coastal Cleanup Day on this Saturday, September 19th – “You’re guaranteed to have a great day and connect with wonderful people!”
Whether you join Ann at the community garden site in the Tijuana River Valley or another site that is meaningful to you, we hope you’ll join us for the largest cleanup of the year. Check out a complete list of cleanup sites at www.CleanupDay.org to find one near you.
Can’t make it to Coastal Cleanup Day? Join us for one of our upcoming cleanups!
If you love San Diego, help us keep it beautiful.