354: James Ross on Value of Community Gardens.

Empowering a community’s strength and resilience through gardening.


James, a father of five and grandfather of eight, is co-founder of the Quesada Gardens Initiative, QGI, a private, non-profit organization focusing on better health and quality of life in Bayview.  He and co-founder Jeffrey Betcher have helped to fund and nurture many community-building efforts; working with other foundations within Bayview Hunters Point to form a support network for the community.

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QGI has started two major community gardens, one is a place for people to sit and relax, and the other is a learning garden where community children learn how to grow food from seed to harvest. The initiative also runs a free build-a-backyard garden program called BayBloom.  He now lives in Danville, KY where he has founded 3 community gardens.


In This Podcast: 

If you just can’t help yourself and tend to get involved in your community, then you might be just like James Ross.  He has a natural drive to help others and that often involves community gardens. James shares the story of the first garden he helped build which became quite long after everyone participated.  He also tells what he learned when negotiating leases for the land their gardens occupied.  Overall, the harvests are much greater than just the fruits and vegetables – so maybe there are other gardens around the corner.

Listen in and learn about:

    • Roaming through San Francisco as a young adult
    • Chatting with a couple seniors in his neighborhood about planting in the medians
    • The community effort to build a 420-foot-long garden plot
    • A special moment when he realized how easier it would be to get healthy food if they grew it themselves
    • Amazing individuals and families who helped make it work
    • Going back to Kentucky and starting over with a new community
    • Developing an agreement for new land that included a time limit
    • Moving to a new community garden at a school
    • Introducing fresh vegetables to school kids
    • His radio show “Gardening with James”
    • Getting to talk to so many people about gardening
    • Loving Sunflowers and sharing the seeds with kids
    • Starting a community seed library

As well as:

His failure – Starting off too large and not being able to organize and get things done

His success – The community involvement in his non-profit through United Way

His drive – Knowing someone out there that needs his help – he just can’t help himself

His advice – Start small and work your way into it

James’s Book recommendations: 

How to reach James:          

Email: spreadingcompost@gmail.com

UrbanFarm.org/gardeningwithjames


This episode was sponsored by The Seed Bank Box.Click HERE to support our show and learn more.



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