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SDG&E Awards Funds for Paradise Hills Community Garden

Paradise Hills, an underserved, urban neighborhood in Southeastern San Diego, is getting a community garden. This thanks to the efforts of local nonprofits Paradise Hills Foundation and Urban Corps of San Diego County as well as San Diego Gas & Electric.

Founded in 2019 by Paradise Hills resident Stacia Roesler, Paradise Hills Foundation is a nonprofit that works toward beautifying the Paradise Hills community. The Paradise Hills Garden aims to provide a space for local residents to grow food, learn about horticulture and meet other members of the community, said President-elect Martie Enloe. At 12 feet long by four feet wide, the garden will feature 14 beds with three different types of crops each, she said.

In addition, Paradise Hills residents can become members of the Garden, said Enloe. For $25 per month, which will cover water and maintenance, they will receive a box of 10-12 freshly-picked vegetables from the garden per week.

Community-Based Enhancements

To launch the project, Paradise Hills Foundation teamed with Urban Corps of San Diego County, a nonprofit that serves as a bridge to better the life of young adults ages 18-26. Urban Corps wrote the grant for the program, explained Enloe, and San Diego Gas & Electric awarded the $15,000 grant via its Environmental Champions initiative. The program invests in Environmental Champions grantees who demonstrate a strong commitment to community-based environmental education and enhancement.

“For more than a decade, SDG&E;’s Environmental Champions grant initiative has supported nonprofits like Urban Corps that take positive action for diverse communities through programs centered around climate literacy and urban greening,” said Penney Newell, senior community relations manager at SDG&E.; “Urban Corps, which provides job training and paid work experience for young adults, approached SDG&E; about a potential collaboration between their organization and Paradise Hills Foundation to create a new community garden and it seemed like a great fit. To date, our involvement has included a grant through the Environmental Champions program as well as supplying both shade trees and fruit trees to enhance the garden.”

Just last month, Urban Corps members constructed the garden area, which was previously vacant. This included tiling, seeding, building garden boxes, installing signage and planting various of the above-mentioned shades and fruit trees.

“Urban Corps applied for an Environmental Champions grant with the Paradise Hills Foundation,” explained Lauren Welch, development director of Urban Corps. “Urban Corps mission is providing a high school education to young adults (who do not have one) while giving them on the job experience in our community, so they can learn, earn and conserve. The conserve piece is based on the type of paid work experience they receive, the work is in planting trees, conserving homes through sustainability rehabilitation activities, removing tires from the ocean and other activities that better the community, protect our wildlife, waters and people. This project perfectly aligned with those goals of providing food access to the Paradise HIlls community – we jumped at the chance.

“This community does have a lack of healthy food access,” she continued, “which is why the Paradise Hills Foundation decided, based on research and experience, that to fill the gap, a community garden was needed in the location that was chosen, so the community would have close and healthy access to food. We were happy to come alongside the Foundation with the labor source.”

Tree Planting, Mural Painting

Down the line, the Paradise Hills Foundation hopes to continue to clean up the neighborhood, said Enloe. In the near future, it will be launching a tree planting project and a mural painting initiative, she said.

Paradise Hills Foundation

FOUNDED: 2019

FOUNDER: Stacia Roesler

HEADQUARTERS: Paradise Hills

BUSINESS: Nonprofit that works to beautify the Paradise Hills community.

EMPLOYEES: Four board members

CONTACT: 619-578-4045

Urban Corps of San Diego County

FOUNDED: 1989

CEO: Kyle Kennedy

HEADQUARTERS: Old Town

BUSINESS: Provides young adults ages 18-26 the tools to expand their career opportunities while earning a high school diploma.

OPERATING BUDGET: $14M annually

EMPLOYEES: Old Town

WEBSITE: www.urbancorpssd.org

CONTACT: Info@urbancorps.org

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