Transforming a Weed Patch into a Community Gem

overhead view of a yellow orchid or irisIn the unincorporated community of McKinleyville, major infrastructure projects are typically overseen by the county. One such project took place in 2014, when sidewalks were installed, streets were repaved, and the Hammond Trail was extended. As part of these improvements, a raised bed, 134 feet long and 4 feet wide, was constructed. However, the raised bed was initially covered with landscape fabric and a thick layer of shredded redwood bark, which quickly turned into a problematic eyesore.

When local resident Martin Joaquin inquired about the future plans for this raised bed, he discovered that neither the county nor the McKinleyville Community Services District (MCSD) wanted to take responsibility for it. For the next four years, the county periodically weed-whacked the bed, but it remained an unattractive weed patch.

a road divider planter with weeds and barkIn the summer of 2019, Martin saw an opportunity for change when county supervisors came to inspect the area. Seizing the moment, he approached them and suggested a transformation of the weed patch into something more beautiful and useful. To his surprise, the supervisors asked if he wanted to take on the project. His enthusiastic “Heck yeah!” marked the beginning of a community-led initiative.

A white dump truck dumping dark compost next to a road

Compost delivery

Martin began by canvassing his neighbors in the quarter-mile area surrounding the raised bed, asking for their input on what should replace the unsightly weeds. The consensus was clear: a native plant garden. With this vision in mind, Martin and his neighbors set to work. Over the next two months, they reached out to local nurseries, securing $3,000 worth of native plants in donations. Utilizing his professional connections as a yard maintainer, Martin obtained vouchers from a local green waste and soil company, which provided 8 cubic yards of compost, with an additional 2 yards, as well as tax and delivery fees, donated to the cause.

a group of people next to a planter with newly planted plants

Many hands make light work.

Neighbors came together to prepare the site, removing the shredded bark and fabric. One neighbor contributed by rototilling the area. On October 26, 2019, the compost was delivered, and 14 community members gathered to plant the garden. By noon, the transformation was complete. For the first summer, a neighbor generously provided water for the new plants.

snow on a roadway with tire tracks across a flower bed. The garden faced its first significant challenge in the winter of 2023, when an unexpected snowfall of four inches down to the coast caused a truck to take out a trail sign and a ceanothus plant. Remarkably, part of the ceanothus survived and grew into a sturdy bush. The garden is now regularly weeded by a few dedicated neighbors.a divider with plants in it between a road and a paved traile established plants in a divider

Today, the once neglected and unsightly patch has become a beloved community space. Instead of merely jogging, walking, or bicycling past, residents and visitors alike stop to admire and photograph the vibrant native flowers. The garden is a testament to what can be achieved when a community comes together with a shared vision and a commitment to improving their local environment.

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Mary Ann
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Mary Ann
13 days ago

Love this story!

Antichrist
Guest
Antichrist
13 days ago

To bad the government still collected taxes on something that was donated to improve their property . Property i might add that certain tax dollars were collected to be used to maintain things like this . Good on these people shame on county for not at least supplying the materials and instead forcing people to have to ask for donations from companies whom already suffering . Good on the companies who were willing and able to help , i wish they could have been named so that people can see which companies deserve to be visited

Korina42D
Member
13 days ago

Thanks for the wonderful story, Lisa! It’s amazing what we can do when we work together.

I doubt it was the snow that caused the truck driver to lose control; more likely they were driving too fast for the conditions. I’m glad no one was hurt.

TMac
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TMac
13 days ago

I live down the street from this and admire it regularly! Great job everyone, now let’s do the roundabout on School (east of highway)! 😊

Eric Stockwell
Guest
Eric Stockwell
11 days ago

Great story!

Berries
Guest
Berries
11 days ago

We just need a trash can and a bench now lol