CARLSBAD — Things are changing for the better at the city’s Harold E. Smerdu Community Garden. For starters, Jenny Craig, whose headquarters are based in Carlsbad, recently donated $9,200 to the garden efforts.
The monies were contributed to the nonprofit Carlsbad Community Gardens Collaborative in the name of Smerdu Gardens toward garden enhancements and offering assistance to any of its gardeners who may need help paying their annual plot fee.
It all started back in June, when community gardeners attended City Council meetings regarding the 2012 gardening plot rate hikes. Eventually, nonresident gardeners were affected the most; their $60 annual fee, which pays for plot space and water usage, will climb to $350.
At one meeting, Patrice Smerdu, spokeswoman for the Smerdu Community Garden, had a chance meeting.
“I was sitting next to a gentleman who worked for Jenny Craig and we started to talk about the community garden issues and he said that Jenny Craig was looking to become more active in their community,” Smerdu said.
Jenny Craig has made a three-year commitment in donating $9,200 in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
“Jenny is located in Carlsbad and the Smerdu Community Garden, which is also located in Carlsbad, plays a big role in many people’s lives in the community by providing fruits and vegetables, which supports a healthy way of eating,” said Dana Fiser, Global CEO at Jenny Craig. “As a company, we’re focused on transforming future generations through healthy eating and lifestyle changes, which is why we believe it’s important to support the Smerdu Community Garden and enrich its continued success.”
Fiser said because Carlsbad is where they work and live, they felt the community garden was a great opportunity to support a community effort that aligns with the company’s mission and goals of giving back, encouraging people to live healthier lives and making an impact on future generations.
“We cannot thank Jenny Craig enough, not just for their money, but for their interest in getting involved,” said Smerdu, adding that the extra funds are a blessing. “We now have the opportunity to make the garden what we have wanted it to be, and that is a model for our community and to be the best community garden in San Diego County.”
Smerdu said they have five individuals who make up their new Gardening Committee, which votes on proposals and meets with the city’s Parks and Recreations Department every couple of months. A minimum of three people in their committee must agree on a vote before they spend any monies.
Smerdu said that since more than 50 percent of its gardeners live in condos and apartments, they have no place to store tools. So, the committee has decided to purchase tools such as rakes, hoes, shovels and wheelbarrows. So far, they have purchased a couple of wheelbarrows.
“We are also in the talking stages of buying small tools for kids in the 5- to 7-year-old range because we see more kids and would like for them to have tools to share while they are here,” she said. “We’d also like to create a welcome package for families or folks who don’t know much about gardening and what grows in our area.”
Along with helping gardeners with annual plot fees, other possible items on the Smerdu Community Garden wish list are a small gazebo with solar panels on its rooftop, which would produce power for a solar generator and small chipper shredder. “With that, we can do a better job of getting rid of our green waste and putting it into a compost pile,” Smerdu said.
Maximizing the use of the money, Smerdu said, is what the gardeners want most of all from this generous contribution.
“To know our donation will help provide more families fruits and vegetables, and live healthier lives as a result, means we’re accomplishing our mission as a company,” Fiser said. “Also, when one person becomes involved with the garden and shares their experience with others, behaviors toward healthy eating habits become richer and stronger.”