¡Join the Food Movement!

The Gardens Project is in Lake County!Future home of a Community Garden at the Highland Senior Center in Clearlake

The Gardens Project of North Coast Opportunities is pleased to announce that we have expanded our community garden work to Lake County with the aid of a three year USDA Community Food Project grant. We are excited to work with local communities and organizations to develop and support gardens in which Lake County residents can grow their own food. We will also provide leadership training opportunities and garden workshops on a wide range of food production and nutrition topics. 

To oversee our efforts, we have hired Ava Ryan as our new Projects Coordinator working out of our Clearlake office. Ava’s passion for buying local and eating well stems from her parents who are long time food coop members and farmers market supporters. As a result, Ava got involved in the local food movement in her hometown of Brooklyn, NY at an early age, and later went on to study sustainable agriculture at Cornell University. She has since worked on research and production farms, managed community gardens and used gardens in educational settings both internationally and in Sonoma County. Ava joined the Gardens Project team in the fall of 2015 as Lake County’s Community Garden Coordinator, and will be working with residents to establish new gardens throughout the county in the hopes of providing access to fresh, healthy, inexpensive produce. 

The Gardens Project has previously assisted in the construction of two Lake County community gardens both in Lucerne; the FLOW Garden located on East Highway 20 and an apartment garden located behind the North Shore Villa senior apartments.  The Gardens Project is currently working with the Highlands Senior Center in Clearlake to open their one acre garden to gardeners in the community. 

In addition to community gardens, the Gardens Project is currently working to develop a network of community members and groups involved in gardening, food, nutrition and agricultural issues that will advocate for the community and will encourage long-term food policy planning.The end goal is to create an advisory board for the grant, to begin preparing to conduct a broad county food assessment and to develop a local food action plan that will address issues of food production and food access in Lake County.

If you have any questions or are interested in developing a community garden in your neighborhood, feel free to contact Ava via email at

or phone at 707-994-4647 ext 131

Preschool gardens get growin’


Keep your eye out around Mendo for miniature-sized vegetable gardeners and healthy eaters! This year, NCO employee Jessica Ruff is working with four preschool sites to help create sustainable learning gardens, empower staff to use their gardens as outdoor classrooms, and engage parents in garden planning. The four sites are South Ukiah Head Start, Peach Tree Head Start, Willits Head Start and State Preschool, and the Mendocino College Child Development Center.


Why Preschool Gardens, you ask?

Preschool gardens are living outdoor spaces that engage children and allow them to explore and observe nature. Studies show that preschool gardens encourage consumption of fruit and vegetables. If children help to grow a broccoli plant from seed, they can't wait to taste the fruits of their labor when it is time to harvest. Encouraging healthy food choices at such an early age can create healthy eating habits for the rest of the student's lives! Gardens are a great place for hands-on math, science, and literacy lessons, and allow children to learn how their food is grown. Caring for plants with their classmates teachs kids respect, caring, and cooperation. Engaging parents in the garden can create a stronger community within the preschool, and improve the family’s diet at home. When children help to grow their own food, they feel proud and confident. And, of course, it’s fun!

This project is funded by a one-year grant from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assitance Program Education and Obesity Prevention Branch program which aims to: increase access to healthy food, promote the consumption of healthy food, and to promote physical activity. Each of the four participating preschool sites are eager to get their gardens producing food and fun for their children and families! Each school has elected staff Garden Leaders who are passionate about their gardens, these leaders will attend trainings and then bring what they learn back to their sites. A few of the schools have already hosted Fall garden clean-up workdays. Stay tuned for updates from the wonderful world of Preschool Gardens! If you are interested in donating supplies or volunteering... please contact Preschool Garden Coordinator Jessica Ruff at jruff@ncoinc.org or 707-467-3224.


What do you want to do?

  • Want a plot in a community garden? 
  • Want to start a new school or community based garden? 
  • Need to find out how to get involved in helping our region be food secure and improve access to healthy, local food in our communities, schools, and businesses?
  • Want to find out about upcoming EVENTS? Click here 

Grow Food    Start a Garden    Eat Healthy    Farm2Fork    Get Fresh   B.E.A.N.S.   Food Policy Council  


Just want to see photos? Click here


Check out the Mendocino County Local Food Guide which has information on what to plant and when, local farms, seed saving, educational opportunities, community and school gardens, farmers' markets, and much, much more!  


Thank you Fetzer!

Fetzer Vineyards has partnered with the Gardens Project to donate 5% of their Community Wine Sale Proceeds to community garden development. Community Wine Sales are held at Fetzer in Hopland every other month during the year. We are grateful for this new partnership that will provide funding for garden projects throughout the year!

Keep posted for the next wine sale!  Instructions are all here.

Upcoming Events:

Can't decide what seeds to sow? Lettuce help you! Gardens Project will be hosting a Garden Planning Workshop January 23rd from 11-1, at the Summercreek Village Apartments Clubhouse. Stephanie Logsdon, Mendocino Gardens Project Coordinator, will be sharing her tips and tricks for getting ahead of the season to maximize your garden's potential. Make sure you you don't miss it by following us on Facebook for updates.

Gardener Spotlight: