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No Community Garden on the Wetlands!

Save the wetlands.

It’s admirable to try and reach low income families who don’t have the space to grow their own food as the is doing. I support their efforts and approve of where the gardens are located. The problem I have with the current plan, , is locating these community gardens on or near our precious wetlands.

The environmental benefits of wetlands are already very well documented. (Google “wetlands preservation” and read for yourself). Not all, but most, wetlands provide water purification, flood protection, shoreline stabilization, and groundwater recharge (replenishment by rainfall), as well as habitat for fish, birds, reptiles, insects and other wildlife, including endangered species. Speaking of birds, I have participated in the held in Watsonville every September since it began and it draws hundreds of people from all over the United States, other countries as well. Imagine all the migratory birds that depend on our wetlands for food, cover, and protection—their very survival—not having this valuable resource along their journey every year. Imagine not being able to enjoy their visit every year.

Up until 1970, the federal government actually encouraged draining the wetlands in favor of agricultural development until they realized the error of their ways. Essentially, all development: roads, houses, commercial buildings, and parking lots cause some disruption in the functioning of our watersheds. Gardening near or on wetlands is dangerous. The chemicals and fertilizers used, even the so-called “natural products,” can irreversibly damage a wetland habitat as runoff from watering the garden will enter the watershed and alter the ecological balance.

And what about bugs and insects? Can any of the people tending this garden guarantee that the pesticide spray they’re going to put on those tomato plants to get rid of that annoying white fly (I know, I’ve had them on my tomatoes too) isn’t going to kill the beneficial bugs and insects that actually work in the wetlands? No one will notice the loss of these “pests” at first, but just wait until there’s an out of control algae bloom or a noticeable decrease in the bird population because their source of food is gone. Fertilizers do harm also. Yes, they’ll help those zucchini plants grow huge overnight but when that same fertilizer gets into the watershed, plants that aren’t supposed to get so big will grow huge and eventually decay, causing oxygen depletion, resulting in a stagnant wetland. 

I’ve already heard one very ignorant former city councilman say “People first” when the location of the newest community garden came up for discussion, thankfully he recently resigned. Simply put folks, as we disturb or disrupt a wetland more and more, wildlife can use it less and less. And like the Joni Mitchell song goes “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”

If it’s not too late, please encourage your city council representative to vote no on placing a community garden near our precious wetlands.

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Steve T April 25, 2012 at 01:50 PM
For many years we've had a successful community garden and city farm operating successfully in the Kooragang Wetlands in Newcastle, Australia. It is a Ramsar listed site (www.ramsar.org) and is a prime example of how an agricultural operation can be productive whilst still conserving the function of the natural ecosystem. The risk you mention about pesticides and fertilizer contamination can be easily mitigated.
Cathy P. April 25, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Sounds like this works for you in your area of the world, great! The problem here is that there is no authority, no one overseeing just what chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides are used. You know what's going to happen? There'll be interest for a few months, maybe a year, and then the plot will go to seed, grow wild, and become a problem (or some young child will be hit by a car crossing the street because there is no parking close by.) Drive by the school garden near the corner of Palm & Brewington, that's the mess we'll have on the wetlands.

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