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Folsom community garden of learning planted

By: Bitsy Kemper, Special to the Telegraph
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It may take a village to raise a child, and as of last week, this village has a new community garden. Debbie Doss, owner and director of American River Montessori preschool, applied for and was awarded a grant to started a “Folsom Community Garden of Learning” project. She was motivated to act after hearing from people in Folsom that there was “nothing to do” with kids. “I thought a garden would be a great way for community members to meet and get to know one another,” Doss said. “Farming is a lost art, and growing food together is important towards building connections with others.” The garden is located at the school, with a separate side entrance, at 401 Mormon Street. This past Saturday a celebration officially kicked off the garden, with 4-H members and people from around the communuty braving the rain to start digging. Birdhouses painted by 4-H members were added, and school kids tended to the organic seedlings they planted earlier in the week. Vivien Brooks attended the event with her four-year-old daughter Nichole, who is a preschooler at the school. “We had a great time planting alfalfa. It was great for the preschoolers – they loved it,” Brooks said. “Nichole was excited to get out her watering can…it was her first time getting dirty. The children are going to enjoy watching the plants grow, and help water and weed.” Doss garnered the grant from the First 5 Sacramento Commission community grant program called the Community Building Initiative. Money comes from Proposition 10, the tobacco tax, which earmarks the money to support the healthy development of children age zero to five. “Collaboratively working on developing and harvesting a community garden can be a great way to bring families with young children together in a community. Families can bond in the process,” said Linda Fong-Somera, CBI program planner. CBI provides funding to groups of three or more people. The commission says oftentimes it’s simply an informal group of moms, dads or grandparents, that creates and submits a plan, like Doss’s community garden, for activities that create ongoing connections to develop networks for parents and children that last beyond the scope of the project. The city of Folsom pitched in on Doss’ idea, donating two composting bins. The Folsom Gardeners, a group of established Folsom master gardeners, is looking to pitch in on a regular basis. Doss and friends dug the irrigation system themselves. “Folsom community members can stop by anytime from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and contribute towards nurturing the garden,” Doss said. Organic broccoli and bok choy should be ready for harvesting in about three months. --- How to apply for a Community Building Initiative Anyone living in Sacramento County can apply for a CBI grant. Grants up to $5,000 are available. The next round of CBI grant applications are due Nov. 7, 2008. Interested parties should form a group with two or more like-minded and motivated individuals, and have an idea for activities that will strengthen connections with others in their community and benefit children u[ t age 5. First 5 Sacramento staff is available to help through the application process. For more information, call Linda Fong-Somera at 876-7386 or Julie Beyers at 876-6529.