City administrators agreed to lease Brooks the land for $100 a year for five years. Since then, Brooks, who works as an usher at San Francisco Giants games and officiates high school sports in the off-season, has filled the lot with raspberries, tomatoes growing like weeds, several varieties of onions, potatoes, artichokes, garlic, zucchini and other veggies.
For Richmond applauds the changes residents like Brooks are bringing to Richmond. This initiative is what built Richmond in the past and what will bring about its improvement in the future.
“People are taking pride in this community,” said Dr. Desmond Carson, a physician at Doctors Medical Center, the For Richmond health chair and a local parks advocate. “Not only are neighbors cleaning up blight, but they are practicing a green approach to putting fresh food on the tables here in Richmond. It improves so many aspects of the quality of life here. Residents are getting fresh food, they’re gardening, getting outside and exercising. And they’re making these neighborhoods more appealing.”
Brooks’ effort has been contagious. Now, neighbors want to turn another empty lot down the street into a park. And residents in the community are drawn to Brooks’ creation, stopping to chat, check on the watermelon plants and offer to help.
“That’s the fun thing about this garden. Folks are inspired by what we’re doing here and they want to get involved,” Brooks said.
Brooks found a way to create a sustainable garden – using recycled plastic bottles to help with irrigation – and another community member and artist created a greenhouse made of wine bottles.