The Ridgecrest Community Garden celebrated its inaugural Juneteenth event, inviting the public to partake in various enjoyable activities and concluding with a complimentary barbecue.
Founded in 2020 by Tyrone and Gabriela Ledford under the nonprofit organization Holistic Divine Innovations, the garden aimed to address the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The initial idea behind the garden was to provide food resources to the city of Ridgecrest, but it has evolved into something much more profound. It has become a symbol of unity and togetherness, a space where people from all walks of life can come together to celebrate and embrace their talents and artistic abilities,” shared Tyrone.
Tyrone and Nakysha Cummings delivered opening speeches, shedding light on the significance and history of Juneteenth.
What was once a vacant lot at 231 W. Haloid Ave. has now transformed into a thriving desert oasis, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the community. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it has also become an indispensable resource for our community.
Tyrone emphasized, “Our garden operates with a collective approach that places a strong emphasis on community. We have made a significant impact on the community by practicing water and soil conservation techniques, which promote efficient water usage and biodiversity.”
According to Tyrone, biodiversity plays a crucial role in increasing pollinators and crop yields, resulting in a larger quantity of food being distributed to the public free of charge each year since the garden’s inception.
Throughout the day, 175 individuals joined the celebration, participating in various activities and collecting free produce grown in the garden. Some added their handprints to the new Unity Wall, featuring a mural of a tree on the adjoining wooden fence, symbolizing the collaborative spirit of the garden’s volunteers.
Tyrone added, “In addition to distributing food, we also educate the community about sustainable practices, which contribute to economic growth in our area.”
The garden’s striking sunflowers, towering over the surrounding vegetable plots, serve as a delightful addition and are diligently cared for by volunteers.
To sustain the garden, the Ledfords rely on in-kind donations and grants. The space features meandering pathways and benches, providing visitors with a serene environment to appreciate.
“We have received an incredible amount of support from volunteers since the beginning. Thousands of individuals have contributed their time and efforts to build and maintain our garden,” expressed Tyrone.
In addition, volunteers from Umoja, Boeing REACH, local churches, child and youth programs, as well as the Women’s Relief Society have participated in garden activities as groups.
The garden operates under the guidance of a board of directors who assist with planning and managing garden activities. The board includes President Tyrone Ledford, Secretary Kristen Lemon, Event Coordinator Gabriela Ledford, Plot Coordinator Merrie Giles, Volunteer Coordinator Tera Morehead, Education Coordinator Danielle Zotter, and Director Christine Hehr.
“Our board of directors consists entirely of volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure the smooth operation of the Ridgecrest Community Garden,” Tyrone concluded.