The History of the Simi Valley Community Garden
In November, 2010, Salina Perry, Simi Valley resident, student of Public Health and Education at California State University of Northridge, mother, wife and member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, saw the vacant lot behind her church as an opportunity. She had wanted for a very long time to find a location to do something healthy and to teach others the same. She envisioned this 2.3 acre lot as a place to bring people together and to start a community garden.
She brought this idea before the church board and before the end of the year, Salina had approval to start Simi at the Garden! Simi at the Garden's first meeting was held in January, 2011 and within a month, the Board of Directors was formed. Through community outreach, public forum meetings, numerous presentations and events held at the garden, Simi Valley residents welcomed the idea. With approximately 10 board members and a handful of volunteers, this vacant lot soon started to take form.
The weeds were removed, the land was graded and trenches were dug for irrigation. Local businesses lent a hand to ensure the Garden's success. From fencing and irrigation to garden tools, generous donations helped to create this incredible garden space.
In April, 2011, Simi at the Garden incorporated and applied for 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization status, with Salina Perry and Beth Dooley as the governing executives. Salina Perry, President and CEO, Beth Dooley, Executive Director, Darin Gaines, Chairman of the Board; Michael Perry, Dave Watkins, Bob Stotz, Ben Hale and Hazel Rose made up the founding Board of Directors.
Soon the enthusiasm spread and volunteer days grew in numbers. Mural painting along a row of stucco carport walls on the north side of the property brought color and creativity to the space. Thanks to multiple volunteer's expertise, a demonstration garden was planted and educational classes began to occur. Tours of the garden space provided information to potential sponsors, service organizations and future members.
Since it's humble beginnings, Simi at the Garden has always been more than a place to grow vegetables. It is a place to nurture community and friendship, to provide service, to learn, to exercise, to share, to socialize and to reap the benefits of joining together in a safe and healthy environment. The vegetables, fruit, fresh herbs and flowers which grow as a result of these efforts, are merely an additional gift of this amazing community development space.