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Gardeners Bid Farewell To Pacific Beach Community Garden

Video by Katie Schoolov

The Pacific Beach Community Garden has been around for 38 years. It’s one of San Diego’s oldest community gardens. But the land has been sold, and the garden has to close on December 31st. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says for the gardeners, it’s a bittersweet farewell.

One of San Diego's oldest community gardens is set to close New Year's Eve after the land was sold to a real estate investment firm.

Paula Gandolfo looks with sadness across the nearly 100 plots making up the Pacific Beach Community Garden, a few of them still full of fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Photo by Andrew Bowen

Paula Gandolfo holds a sweet potato she harvested from the Pacific Beach Community Garden, Dec. 24, 2015.

"I see these gardens that were really, really well planted and lush are now pretty fallow," she said. "A few of us die-hards are just going to garden right up until the end."

The plot of land in Crown Point had been leased to the gardeners for nearly four decades by a group home for the developmentally disabled that sits across the street. This summer the land was sold to the La Jolla-based real estate investment firm Pathfinder Partners. The garden is closing on New Year's Eve.

Gandolfo, the garden's coordinator, said the property's buyer gave them a "generous" donation that they'll use to find a new space, and that they're hoping to secure a spot at the nearby De Anza Cove.

Community gardens, where residents tend small plots of shared land in usually urban areas, are increasingly popular as demand for local produce increases. At times the Pacific Beach Community Garden had waiting lists of up to 40 people.

Photo by Andrew Bowen

Drops of dew rest on a large head of broccoli at the Pacific Beach Community Garden, Dec. 24, 2015.

Gandolfo said while the fruits and vegetables are delicious, they're essentially a byproduct of the more important reasons she gardens there — friendship, community and peace.

"There's this beautiful environment, there's wildflowers, there's birds, there's all this beautiful greenery," she said. "It's just very, very peaceful."

A number of the gardeners held a party Wednesday night to say goodbye to the space. Asked what the garden meant to them, they responded with "nourishment for the body and soul" and "continuous life."

"The garden is not just about growing vegetables," said gardener Carol Christensen. "It's about meeting people and making friends."

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