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Roseland getting unique 'urban farm' park

  • Cristina Valverde, volunteer at Bayer Farm, plants Morning Sun tomato seeds in the farm's greenhouse, April 5, 2011.

They could have had a swimming pool. They could have received swing sets and soccer fields.

But when the city took the time to ask residents of Roseland what kind of park they really wanted, they got a surprising answer – vegetable gardens.

The folks in this underserved section of the city, many of whom live in apartments or homes with small yards, wanted more than anything else space to tend their own gardens.

Bayer Farm

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"We're in a recession and people want to grow their own food," said Magdalena Ridley, outreach coordinator for LandPaths, non-profit agency she said aims to "foster a love of the land."

That's the vision behind the master plan for the six-acre Bayer Neighborhood Park & Gardens project on West Avenue, which won high praise from the Santa Rosa City Council Tuesday.

"It's a very good example of community involvement and doing something good for a neighborhood," Mayor Ernesto Olivares said.

The need for more parks in the city's southwest has been painfully evident for years. The area has just 2.15 acres of parks per thousand residents, less than half the city average of 4.4 acres per thousand residents.

"The southwest area is basically under-parked in relation to the rest of the city," Marc Richardson, director of Recreation, Parks & Community Services told the council.

There are several park projects planned to remedy that imbalance. But Bayer is unique for the degree of public input that went into the plan.

Area residents got involved with the property almost immediately after the city acquired it in 2007. The city joined with LandPaths, which organized programs to teach people about gardening and now runs the community gardens.


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