Beginning in 2009, Daily Acts formed a pioneering partnership with the City of Cotati to transform an underutilized neighborhood park from a municipally maintained lawn into a public food forest. The garden is now dubbed “Pocket Park” for the wealth of ecological gems tucked into a pocket-sized space.
Prior to the transformation, during the summer months this 5,000 square foot lawn was being irrigated with tens of thousands of gallons of potable drinking water. The monoculture of grass was being kept in check by mowing and using fertilizers and herbicides. Most pedestrians just walked by. In winter, unmeasured gallons of rainwater contaminated with road runoff, fertilizers, and other effluent washed over it and into the creek. This undermined watershed restoration efforts being made by Cotati Creek Critters in the riparian area of the directly adjacent creek. This all too common landscape scene was crying for a change.
In August 2009, 40 volunteers converged upon the park to sheet mulch the lawn; they capped the water-wasting sprinkler system and created a thick lasagna of compost, cardboard, and mulch on top of the grass. A month later, another set of 40 community volunteers lent their hearts and hands to planting over 150 plants of 50 species. The City and Daily Acts have continued to offer seasonal skill building workshops and community workparties at the park.
This suburban food forest is saving at least 62,500 gallons of water annually. At maturity, the fruit trees and berry bushes will be capable of producing hundreds of pounds of food annually–available for free to Cotati Residents. The City of Cotati is no longer spending money on pesticides, herbicides, lawn mower fuel, and other petroleum-derived substances to maintain the lawn and these substances are also being kept out of the adjacent creek.