Community gardens are known to empower residents by supporting overall health and providing an alternative food source for poorer neighborhoods.
But more importantly, community gardens are vital in the face of tragic events that can have a significant impact on the community as a whole.
According to Tyrone Ledford, founder and president of Holistic Divine Innovations and co-founder of the Ridgecrest Community Garden, health and wellness is one of his top priorities for townspeople.
Ledford is originally from Compton and moved to Ridgecrest in 2019 to take up a full-time faculty position in child development at Cerro Coso Community College. He has since created the garden, much to the delight of those who use it.
Its goal is to introduce individuals to the natural resources that our earth provides and to increase the supply of fresh organic food in all communities around the world.
“We’re going through some dark times right now, and I want to help bring people back down to earth and start growing basic gardens,” Ledford said.
According to Ledford, it’s extremely important for everyone to know how to maintain their nutrition by growing their own gardens, especially in the face of the recent pandemic and earthquake.
According to Ledford, “In these cases, we need to pool our resources, spare each other, and help each other. That’s the whole concept of the community garden.”
Food that is grown at the community garden is available at no cost. The varieties are subject to the season.
But, as The Little Red Hen from the popular children’s book would say, “Who will help me plant the wheat?”
In other words, there could be no garden without the help of volunteers.
Says Ledford, “We also provide education and resources to those in need by offering innovative, alternative and healthier lifestyles.”
Additionally, Ledford said he helps people build garden spaces and teaches them how to care for them.
Says Ledford, “A lot of the fruits and vegetables we eat, we don’t know their nutritional value.”
Salvation Army Lt. Gina Noble agreed with Ledford, saying: “Not only are the fresh foods we can grow loaded with nutrients, but it’s amazing to go from seed to plate and fruit and vegetables simply taste better.”
Additionally, Noble said gardening is fun and educational, and the experience brings a community together.
Another benefit of running a community garden is owning the quality of the fruits and vegetables we eat, and the sooner we eat them after harvesting them, the better.
Says Ledford, “How long do you think it would take a single bell pepper to get to your supermarket? It takes four to six weeks.”
Simple fruits and vegetables should be eaten within a week, Ledford said.
Ledford and its volunteers also grow their own herbs and spices in the community garden.
Currently, Ledford is looking for another greenhouse to add to the property, located at 231 W. Haloid St. Donations of compost and seeds are also always welcome.
Mayor Eric Bruen said our community garden is a perfect example of how a little effort can turn into something beautiful.
“The gardening team and their chef Tyrone are turning abandoned land into rich, healthy and sustainable sources of food, recreation and education in our community. The best part is seeing how our local residents have embraced these gardens and become grow into new gardens where neighborhoods can come together,” Bruen said.
Ledford earned her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton in Child and Adolescent Development with a major in Early Childhood Education. He then earned his master’s degree from Pacific Oaks College in Human Development/Social Change.
He has over 10 years of teaching experience in early childhood education and has worked in intensive mental health services as a family specialist.
Ledford recently spoke about the community garden at a weekly Rotary Club of China Lake meeting. The Rotary Club is a wonderful source of informative presentations held every Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. at Mac’s Restaurant. Potential members and guests are always welcome.
For more information, visit holisticdivineinnovations.org, or visit the Facebook or Instagram pages.