The Star-News


Chula Vista on Obama's radar

Mon, Apr 26 2010 12:32 PM Posted By: Jon Campbell

Obama visited a community garden in San Diego on April 15 as part of a program to battle childhood obesity.

"Like the students from Chula Vista, who realized that the park they played in growing up was now too dangerous for other kids to use. So what did they do? They worked with local leaders to fix up that park, and now it's cleaner and busier than ever before," said Obama, in an apparent reference to Lauderbach Park, which was the target of a major revitalization effort in recent years.

Obama was in San Diego promoting an initiative called Building Healthy Communities which will spend more than $1 billion over the next 10 years to fund community farms, nutrition programs and other health related projects.

The New Roots Farm in City Heights, which hosted Obama's visit, is an example of a community garden.

Residents in the neighborhood can rent a plot of land at New Roots for a small fee and grow their own fruits and vegetables. Health advocates say the gardens provide inexpensive produce in areas where it's sometimes hard to come by, and promote exercise through the tending of small garden plots.

Similar projects are planned in Chula Vista after the City Council passed a community garden policy earlier this year.

Chula Vista's gardens are expected to be built on underutilized city land, and funded mostly through fees from users, but with oversight and support from the city.

Tanya Rovira-Osterwalder is an administrator with Healthy Eating Active Communities, which helped push for the community gardens plan in Chula Vista. While she said her group didn't yet know whether the funding being announced by Obama would be available to South County groups in the future, she said the high profile support for community gardens in general would be a boon to the efforts in Chula Vista.

"We have the (community gardens) policy now, and hopefully we can get the funding," she said.


© 2009 The Star-News