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Organic Gardeners Produce More Than Just Produce

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Organic Transitions page and our California News page.

 A group of local gardeners with a spirit of fun and an eye for beauty are growing far more than vegetables.

Visit SLO Creek Farms Organic Community Garden and you find a lush sofa and overstuffed chairs made of mounds of hay bales, which are covered with sod and then planted with grass seed. The gardeners call the collection their "lawn furniture."

Nasturtiums trail across paths and mound against picket fencing to mulch the garden and deter deer. Organic vegetables such as squash, beans and tomatoes grow in abundance in the rich soil. Good Bug Blend, a cover crop that attracts butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects, thrives along the hillside by the fence line. Ashley Gable believed a community of organic farmers was possible and practical. She kicked off the rhinestone heels she wears as a professional ballroom dancer, pulled on a pair of rubber boots, and now her vision is reality. Everything in the community garden eco-system works together and the gardeners do, too. The modest rent of $50 each year on the 16 plots is plowed back into the garden in the form of supplies like fencing and other garden needs.

One plot is donated to local veterans so they can experience the benefits of connecting with the earth. Deborah Humphrey, one of the garden managers, works with that group. Another plot is set aside in which everyone plants one seed and takes care of it. When that plot is harvested, the produce is given to a family in need.

A lot of people visiting U-pick at SLO Creek Farm to get their apples said they wished they had a place to grow a garden. This helped Ashley and her parents, Robyn and Blythe Gable, to open one. The farm is located some six miles south of San Luis Obispo.

"We believe strongly in organic produce and the health and well-being of the community. We hope more organic farms catch on," Ashley Gable said.    
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