May 26, 2019
link to facebook link to twitter
More Stories
Cotati honors and appreciates CRPUSD district’s good news in May SMART to offer free rides... Sheriff’s canine apprehends convicted felon RP votes to restrict fireworks Planning Commission approves hotel CHP to check motorcycle safety in local area SSU Police make arrest in sexual assault case An offer has been made and accepted on Rohnert Park’s corporate yard Rohnert Park caregiver arrested Burglary suspect found with firearms May CalFresh month celebration Promotions in the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety Homelessness spikes in RP Home delivery changes Fresh faces on the CRPUSD board 73rd Miss Sonoma County competition held at Spreckels Straus Family Creamery moving to RP TAG building grand opening Newsom’s vision “cradle to career” RP Downtown project underway Schools, facilities and bonds: Plans but no money DUI driver crashes into 7-1 Teen arrested for shooting at RP Bad air quality cancels sports Official election winners as projected by the VOICE  RP swears in new council member 2018 local stories which made history ArtStart brings art to the RP Senior Center Holocaust piano now in Cotati CRPUSD seeking a new superintendent Superintendent search begins Cotati Council moves ahead Fun family Christmas events in Cotati Cougars’ season comes to a tearful sad conclusion CalFresh clients get Feb. benefits early Rohnert Park Station Ave. update Cuts suggested for school district The “Healing Wall” comes to Sonoma County Cotati memorializes victims Rohnert Park considers firework restrictions Dr. Dominguez and Hawkins named as director and co-director for Hanna Institute University Elementary School to host Maker World at SSU Animal Shelter League of RP receives grant Cotati Council reshuffles seats Help save lives by donating blood New laws on purchasing and concealing handguns Fencing in Sonoma County School district leaders tackle 1.9m deficit School district seeking new superintendent Cotati protests CASA compact School district balances budget More high density in Rohnert Park Put down your phone April is distracted driving awareness month The Community Voice endorses candidates DA’s office awarded DUI Prosecution Grant Rohnert Park kid joins TCU El Camino graduates Rohnert Park Council says we don’t need another agency Rancho students excel in Poetry Out Loud  SC public safety heroes of the year Don’t drive with an open container Traffic concerns top RP survey SSU Equestrian looks to go national Brace yourself for mosquitos Station Avenue project Frightful, fun, free Halloween activities Cougars crush Ukiah Election projected winners November 6, 2018  Sonoma Clean Power offers no-cost energy upgrades Rancho advances to semifinals RP’s n­ew Director of Public Safety A stand-off with barricaded, suicidal woman ends safely in RP RP has a new director of public safety Mackenzie leaves SMART RP officers spent Sat. car chasing A shimmer of hope against the angry heavy sky SSU to host North Bay Women of Color conference Rancho’s TAG building, now a reality Mayors of So Co write angry letter Dodd’s college student food bill passes Public invited to give input on Downtown RP Site School board candidates voice opinions Woman stabbed on west side of RP LandPaths connects people to protected land Tech High Girl's Soccer Undefeated champions! AG Becerra issues consumer alert on price gouging in fire-affected communities Learn to docent at the SSU Fairfield Osborn Preserve New signs point in the right direction Where are the ski lifts? Is Cotati being targeted? New alcohol fees for Rohnert Park Sonoma State president testifies for tax relief for disaster victims Fixing Cotati’s roads RP driver identified State Farm property steams forward to Station Avenue Scrappers Steal Win RP Foundation issues grant Cotati allows second dispensary New residential building lands approved In Singapore Strait aboard a missile destroyer PG&E has a prediction model USCIS presents free training on how to apply for citizenship RP investigates new site for Corp. Yard Two arrested in RP motel for mail theft  Is Juuling the new norm? Cotati considers $15 min. wage No criminal charges filed against PG&E in northern Ca. wildfires  RP decides on west side Vintage race cars on Sonoma raceway track Rancho Cotate Band fundraiser BBQ Jessica Holman: Thirty-five years of Rancho Spirit Titans crush Mustangs Station Avenue gets final approval Cotati Council reviews trash plan Baseball League receives donation from local motorcycle club Cotati Police Chief Parish swears in new officer Garber A Sunday afternoon with retired football players Injury collision closes Golf Course Dr. Giving Kids Smiles in Rohnert Park Neighborhood watch meeting scheduled New Executive Director at SSU New interim superintendent Krispy Kreme Doughnuts comes to Rohnert Park  Cougars blow past Gauchos  Rohnert Park honors its Veterans and Servicemen CHP reminds all of increased crimes Cougars beat Bulldogs More than 276,000 Dreamers have renewed DACA White receives Matt Walsh Memorial RP and Sunday festivities SSU fraternity banned for five years Name correction: Cotati Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest Rancho crushes Analy CA Homemaker Association needs volunteers Active duty honorees at the RP Veterans Day program Santa now knows her secret CPI receives funding to offer counseling in schools Caltrans works toward decarbonizing California transportation The Rancho Cotati Rotary Club hosts Humanitarian Award dinner SSU and SCOE offer high school internship RP’s new interim police chief Big changes to big project in Rohnert Park A possibility for Snyder Lane to have four lanes soon Rohnert Park road updates Sheriff’s Detectives arrest SR man after controlled delivery of ecstasy pills. Cotati comes out against CASA Penngrove Community Church celebrates 120 years Cotati approves tree lighting City of Cotati has apartment housing parking problems Operators ordered to pay for false advertising violations Becerra urges Ca. businesses resources to help prevent human trafficking Possible change to parking rules Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth Rohnert Park City Council Candidates NHTSA reminds motorists to drive sober this season R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty Summit State Bank annual report FEMA awards Sonoma Water grant March for the blind highlights need for more accessible sidewalks Cougar to Bear — Simmons’ new pelt SRJC picks up local quarterback The Cougars defeat the Jaguars at homecoming New laws take effect Jan. 1 Kids and firefighters compete in RP RP local, Petri Alva, 14, a nationally recognized athlete SweetPea celebrates 31 years Seawolves serve up a victory Cardinals rout Cougars How to help victims of wildfires Polynesia celebrated at annual Pacific Islander Festival Fire storm anniversary Plan approved for Station Ave. park Football in full swing, 3rd win Arrests and charges target Apple stores Annie Rasmussen Celebration of Life Revisiting those who lost it all: October wildfire victims still on the road to recovery SMART celebrates a year of service RP Public Safety report card Penngrove native set for amazing voyage Cotati votes opposition to oil leases SC neighborhood sues illegal pot grower Penngrove grassfire destroys buildings Cotati Accordion Festival still a hit after 28 years RP residents provide input in police chief search Forum hosted by WLV for RP City Council candidates Supply giveaways lend a hand to families Police officers inspect inside of car Lowerys help with campaign Yes on Measure W will keep fire stations open RP to host community forum for public safety director search Emergency Alert System Test Sept. 10 & 12 Spreckels and Alchemia connects community It wasn’t an easy fight but Rancho wins again RP Safety Dept. climbs in remembrance of 9/11/18 Back to school for Rohnert Park and Cotati Another tough break for roller derby RP waits to make update to emergency alert system Cougars slay Dragons Third pedestrian struck by SMART train Enjoying ribs Little ones with big Polynesian dancing spirit Sidewalk repair gets big break from City of RP RP Health Center celebrates anniversary Imitating major leaguers Rohnert Park waiting for approval for canine program

Lydia Court neighbors with common vision create bountiful garden

By: Linda Peterson
October 8, 2009

George Martin has lived in Rohnert Park for the past 11 years. He works from home and says he has his best meetings while pacing and talking on his headset. These days, Lydia Commons Community Garden is where he walks every day.
But for many years it was just a nice little park with a playground where some of the neighbors came to walk their dogs and chat with each other.
Unfortunately, every winter with the rains, the park’s dirt turned to mud and Martin’s dog would track it into his house. Being an inventive sort, Martin came up with an idea to solve this problem - planting drought tolerant plants along the entry to park to prevent run-off and mud with very low maintenance. He approached the city of Rohnert Park and after some discussion, they agreed to let him implement his plan, thus beginning a relationship with city park staff.
One of Martin’s neighbors who also frequented the park with her dog is former RP mayor Vicki Vidak-Martinez. Over the years she had brought up the idea of a community garden in their little park, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago when outside factors and events drove the neighborhood to action that things progressed toward realizing that dream.

Lydia Court faces its challenge
Strangers began showing up in their park at night dealing drugs. With Martin’s back yard abutting the park, he saw what was happening. Upset by what was occurring, he started to fight back and enlisted his neighbors. It was risky for him to tackle this alone; Martin’s garage door was tagged once for his efforts.
On Sunday nights Martin, Vidak-Martinez and a core group of neighbors would go into the park and disrupt what was going on by their presence. Though they could not and did not want to do that all the time so that’s when the community garden concept really took hold. Over that summer, the estimate was 15-20 calls to police. The city of Rohnert Park’s resources and money were being spent on a problem that was not going away.

A garden takes root
Martin and Vidak-Martinez decided the time was right. There were cutbacks in the city’s budget and a garden seemed an ideal way to discourage drug dealing in their park. With help from another neighbor, Teresa Lopez, a member of Concerned Citizens of Rohnert Park (C-CORP), they found the right people on city staff to approach. They pitched their idea: Access to land, mulch, chips, and water in exchange for taking care of the park. The city agreed it would be a good pilot program and gave them thumbs up.
In February of this year, park staff replaced old irrigation to ready the land for planting. In April the Lydia Court garden group found a farmer willing to plow the land. His rate was $40 an hour, but when he heard what they were planning, he told them that if he could plow it in an hour he would do it for free - and he did.
And thus the Lydia Commons Community Garden began this spring. Mounded beds were created for an initial 17 beds (there are now 20, with a waiting list), a tool shed was donated by one of the neighbors, and donated fruit trees were planted. Several wine barrels (another of Martin’s ideas) hold hundreds of daffodil bulbs, but during the summer are host to a multitude of beets.
A large common area is filled with thriving corn and pumpkins that will soon be ready for sale. “It’s all been a big experiment,” says Martin, beaming.

Daily life in the garden
Hearing our voices in the garden, a large steer on the neighboring property lumbers over to the bordering fence, stares at us and begins to bellow, repeatedly. Martin refers to him as “the cow,” saying he used to name them, but they kept disappearing. Apparently a daily routine is to find an overgrown vegetable and offer it to the steer. Martin places it on the ground and the large bovine begins to nibble, and then quickly devour a giant zucchini. An important part of the garden eco-system, the “cow” augments the gardeners’ on-site compost bin.
While we observe the composter at work, Karen Pierce-Gonzales, a fellow crime fighter/gardener arrives on her bicycle. She and Martin do what gardeners do, which is discuss their garden plots’ bounty and what they intend to plant for winter. While we talk of how the garden came to be, Pierce-Gonzales says of Martin, “George may not have told you, but he is the Garden God around here.
“We dealt with our problem here without being confrontational.”

Decisions as a garden group
Plot holders are stepping up to take on needed tasks, according to Martin. But they’ve found that those who live in the neighborhood spend more time, while those who come from B section have to drive to the site and cannot be there as much. The group is working with the city to help set up some growing space closer to home for B section folks. Martin says he wants to see this spread like a virus into other neighborhoods.
The group has received a matching grant from the city. Anything the garden members get donated, the city will match up to $1,000. They’ve decided that the money will be used for fencing, so dogs and their owners will still be welcome without the worry of any accidental damage to the garden beds.

Lessons learned
Martin recently installed a motion detector for a neighbor who wanted to walk her dog at 5 a.m. They say there is no funding these days for neighborhood watch programs. “We made it a safer place, so people won’t feel vulnerable when they come to the park,” he says.
Lydia Court neighbors have not had to call the police once this summer.  Martin says he’s met five times the number of people he knew before the garden existed. “Everyone is attracted to the garden. It’s a ‘win-win’ for everyone. And I get to be in this garden every day,” he says with a big grin.

Garden facts
• It’s organic.
• Members work eight hours, besides tending their own plots.
• It’s open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. (or sunset).
• There are 20 garden beds and they hope to expand to another site.
• The cost for a garden plot is a $25 annual contribution for communal uses such as soil amendments and topsoil.
• Non-members can help on scheduled garden workdays
For more information, contact Vicki Vidak-Martinez at