Local Projects: Ashby Community Garden

Ashby community garden was started in February 2004 by a crew of friends who wanted to begin growing community from an empty lot on a busy street in a lower income neighborhood in Berkeley, Calif. The vision began as an urban sustainability project where people could grow food, share land and knowledge. Starting as a handful of people, the Sustainable Ecology Collective grew beyond the fenced lot through hosting a number of workshops including bee keeping and cob oven construction.

Through the next year as the garden took root in the neighborhood, the intention for the space was to collectivize everything by eliminating any plot systems, common in most community gardens, and in that same vein, care for chickens, bees, and bathtub-ponds together.

We currently occupy one of two adjacent lots (both abandoned approximately 35 years) and are finally realizing our dream of cultivating the fallow lot next door. In the process of expanding we hope to create even more of a community space through murals, fruit trees, a gathering area and community effort.

We realize that creating a garden is a fragile venture working on an abandoned urban space. With this in mind, our vision is to create a space that could move on if development sets in. Ideas are a moveable mural and potted fruit trees that can easily be relocated. Despite the bullshit land ownership system and lack of land access in the city, we want to grow beyond the limits of all that to inspire more gardens and community projects on unused property. Community building need not acquiesce to the hands of development.