It may be no Garden of Eden, but tucked away in Central Park is the Santa Clarita Valley’s own Garden of Eatin’.
Once through the locked gates of the garden, nearly 70 individual plots scatter across Santa Clarita’s largest park, where gardeners spend hours and hours every week tending to the sprouts, veggies and fruits that grow in every corner and are evident from the moment one enters.
There’s a shaded picnic area complete with succulents, which are embedded in the table. There are fruit trees that offer organic oranges, apples and peaches.There are also herb gardens.
Community garden member Anita Wiggins, who can often be found tending to the cucumbers, carrots and other organic goods grown in her plot, absolutely loves this place..
“My vegetables are like my babies,” Wiggins said with a giggle. “It’s funny, because I show pictures of my kids,” but she really just wants you to see the picture of her tomatoes.
“I don’t know how to describe the feelings I get when I’m here,” Wiggins said. “It’s what life should be like. It’s just being alive as time and life passes.”
She admits it sounds “so new age,” Wiggins said, but seeing a perfectly grown fruit provides a bigger thrill for her than most.
“I mean look at it,” she said in the middle of answering a question, as she got distracted by a cucumber close by. “I don’t mean to be gushy, but it’s a miracle because you get to witness so much of the natural world right in front of you.”
The gardens enable residents who sign up as members to rent plots to grow their own pesticide- and preservative-free vegetables.
In 2015, the Community Gardens of Santa Clarita Education Committee was formed, offering free organic gardening classes to valley youth and low cost organic gardening course to adults. Each year over 100 youth sign up to participate in the classes, workshops, and events. The organization offers weekend workshops and private classes for youth, as well as events, said Gardens Education Committee Chair Gisa Seeholzer-Haggin.
The gardens usually have a wait list for available plots.
SCV residents can still get involved with the Community Gardens through volunteering, attending events and workshops, or by requesting a free garden tour.
The gardens are home to a large composting area, greenhouse, chicken coop, Monarch Way station, pollinator bee garden, herbal garden, native garden, and orchard. It also has a bluebird nesting box and two barn owl nesting boxes inside the gardens.
As much as she loves the natural world, Wiggins said, “The stuff that isn’t invited is the worst part.
“You’ll plant everything and have a big dream with all this potential,” she said, “but nothing comes out of it because the pests, rats and disease destroyed it.”
It’s the way of life, though, Wiggins said, so you throw the damaged plants in the compost bin and start anew, “which is great because in the store it’s considered trash, but here (at the garden) it has a use.”
It’s the way the world is supposed to be, Wiggins said, “So join if you want to be happy, (because) it’s a really fun place and a great way to connect with nature, with life and with people.”
The city of Santa Clarita, along with the Community Garden Council, launched the nonprofit in 2011. For more information, go to communitygardensofsantaclarita.org. Central Park is located at 27150 Bouquet Canyon Road.
–Crystal Duan contributed to this article