Some Santa Maria gardeners are giving up a portion of their community growing space so that Allan Hancock College students can be better prepared to enter the agribusiness world.
The partnership between the Santa Maria Department of Recreation and Parks and the college — in the works since late 2011 — allows Hancock ag students to plant in just more than half of the 80 garden plots at the community garden beginning this fall.
The garden is at Alice Trefts Park at 510 E. Park St., behind the Elwin Mussell Senior Center.
Improvements were required to prepare the space for joint use, which is why the Santa Maria City Council on Tuesday ratified a U.S. Department of Agriculture sub-recipient grant agreement between the parks department and the college.
The grant creates a community garden agribusiness program and an outdoor classroom aimed at expanding course offerings at Hancock, which is adjacent to the city property.
“Part of that will create new opportunities for community gardeners,” Parks Director Alex Posada said, adding the possibility of event speakers. “Hopefully it’s a win-win. They had to give up some space, but will be getting back opportunities.”
Posada said some gardeners, who now share that 20,000-square-foot space, have been relocated to new plots on VTC Enterprises land at 2445 A St.
As a key partner in the grant, the city will receive about $40,506 over three years for improvements and reconfiguration, most of which have already been made, Posada said.
A new garden shed and fence, irrigation repairs, and a new covered assembly area are among necessary upgrades.
Posada said officials have been working with local garden members to create vacancies, and that the city would love to find more space for future gardens, especially since plans call for the college to take over six more plots by spring 2014.
“We have another goal to find other locations for community gardens,” he said, noting a particular need for plots in northern Santa Maria. “We’re looking at some of our parks, especially in those areas that are heavily concentrated.”