A fresh start for Hayward Community Gardens

HAYWARD — In the city’s Jackson Triangle neighborhood, under the constant hum of electric lines, there is an L-shaped slice of land called the Hayward Community Gardens, where vegetables and fruits were grown on more than 200 plots set aside for resident gardeners.

These days, the once-fecund, 5.3-acre parcel on Whitman Street and Berry Avenue is mostly empty after being closed for the last 2 1/2 years.

The locked chain-link gates to the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. property are worn and warped or broken in some places. Abandoned plastic pots and weathered greenhouse structures, alongside tall weeds, cactus plants and corn stalks, are the only remaining clues to the property’s agricultural roots.

That could change as the city and Hayward Area Recreation and Park District refine plans to overhaul the gardens. The park district leases the gardens from PG&E. The HARD board in February authorized RRM Design Group, of San Leandro, to develop plans for the property, surrounded on all sides by apartment complexes.

Plans under review call for the garden to eventually accommodate up to 200 20-by-20-foot plots, 28 raised beds and a 14-foot access road through the site from Whitman to Berry. The road would be only accessible to maintenance vehicles, RRM Design Group senior landscape architect Gina Chavez said.

Visitors and gardeners would have to park their cars on Berry or Whitman and carry their tools to the garden or use on-site storage sheds.

Other proposed features include at least one bathroom; greenhouse spaces; picnic areas; outdoor classrooms; demonstration areas; a produce counter or seed library; public art pieces; compost and mulch areas; a children’s playground; chicken coops; and barbecue areas.

“We’re going through the visioning process right now, so now is the time for brainstorming, but as far as details of the park, it hasn’t been designated yet,” HARD Park Superintendent Dan Giammona said at a Sept. 28 community meeting at the gardens site.

“There’s a lot of wonderful ideas out there, but there’s a cost to each of those, so we really have to prioritize. This is a community garden, and we’d love to incorporate as much as we possibly can; however, there are limitations, so I just want to set reasonable expectations,” he said.

The first phase of the project is expected to cost about $527,000, with close to $500,000 coming from city fees paid by developers for parkland, Giammona said. The project also is receiving $27,000 from Measure WW, a

Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle

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