WHO IS LEAF?
Local Ecology and Agriculture Fremont (LEAF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing environmental education to the Fremont community about sustainable and ecological practices, including local food production and organic gardening, waste reduction, green building, and resource conservation; and to build community among the diverse residents of Fremont, California.
Since its establishment in the fall of 2009, LEAF has supported the creation of organic community vegetable gardens in Fremont. The LEAF Center Garden, located at 37553 Niles Blvd., serves as our current headquarters. This location is .26 acres of private land that has been generously donated by the Board of Directors’ President Bruce Cates for our use, hosting greenhouses, shared vegetable gardening space, composting facilities, and water-saving demonstration projects. The LEAF Center Garden provides an opportunity for our nearly 500 existing LEAF members to participate in a variety of hands-on opportunities in home gardening, urban agriculture, and ecological practices.
In addition to supporting the community garden efforts at the LEAF Center Garden and at other locations throughout Fremont (found at 2950 Washington Blvd., 38891 Mission Blvd., and 36300 Fremont Blvd.), LEAF has also hosted a number of public workshops on a variety of urban gardening topics, including composting, beekeeping, and plant propagation. LEAF has also worked closely with Dale and McIvor’s Hardware Stores in Fremont to raise organic vegetable starts and native / water-wise plants to sell at these locations.
WHAT IS LEAF’S FUTURE?
Right now, all community gardens supported by LEAF are located on private land, therefore limiting their accessibility to all Fremont residents. Furthermore, the property currently hosting the LEAF Center Garden will no longer be available for our use by the end of the year, forcing us to relocate our operations. Fortunately, the City of Fremont has agreed to let LEAF utilize .55 acres of space at the California Nursery Historic Park site located at 36501 Niles Blvd. As part of this agreement, the City of Fremont has required that LEAF have funding in place for on site infrastructure improvements.
To assist with this, Alameda County’s StopWaste.Org has offered LEAF a generous $15,000 grant, allowing us to purchase the necessary materials and infrastructure to set up a garden at the California Nursery Historic Park. The release of the StopWaste.Org grant, however, is contingent upon LEAF raising another $15,000 in matching funds.
If we can raise the first half of this amount, ($7,500), StopWaste.Org will release the first half of this grant to us, with the remaining $7,500 released once we can complete the match. If we can raise the first $7,500 by May 31st, we will have enough funding that the City will allow us to move into the California Nursery Historic Park site this summer!
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
With a growing global population, environmental resource scarcity, increasing development of open spaces into the built environment, and the pending effects of climate change, it is important that we focus increasing attention on making our local communities as environmentally responsible and self-sufficient as possible.
Furthermore, in our own community, we suffer from stratification amongst the various social sectors. As Fremont is the 10th largest city in area in California with almost 215,000 residents and 11 different “districts”, we suffer from a geographic disconnect. Our elder populations have limited interactions with our youth, causing a generational divide. With the largest concentration of Afghans in the US, large percentages of Indian, Chinese, and Filipino populations, as well as a large deaf community, Fremont has many opportunities for multiculturalism, but as a bedroom community, we tend to commute long distances to our places of work and have little interaction with our neighbors or people from other cultural or religious backgrounds.
Fremont is centrally located in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metro region, with close ties to Silicon Valley. And yet, Fremont owes its development in large part to its agrarian roots. In addition to the fact that only just a few decades ago most of Fremont consisted of farmland, since 1884 Fremont has been host to the California Nursery Historic Park, once a 750 acre commercial nursery operation that provided fruit trees and landscaping plants for the entire San Francisco Bay Area region. In its current state, the existing 20 acres, owned by the City of Fremont and zoned as Open Space, has remained vacant and unkempt for over two years since the closure of the Naka and Mission Adobe Nurseries.
Moving to the Historic Mission Adobe Nursery will provide LEAF with the opportunity to establish the City of Fremont’s first true Community Garden, supported by the City, and available for use by its residents. It will symbolically represent a reconnection with Fremont’s agricultural history, and will provide LEAF with the opportunity to educate Fremont residents about our past as a farming community and future as a sustainable suburban community. Furthermore, it will provide a common space for residents from throughout the community – regardless of age, culture, or background – to come together and share their wisdom and experiences with one another. Finally, it will provide a space for our youth to practice sustainability in a very tangible way, teaching them about the importance of environmental stewardship.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
LEAF needs you to help us find matching funds so that we can begin our move to the California Nursery Historic Park this summer. This is the first step in realizing our vision of a more sustainable Fremont community.
The LEAF Board of Directors