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Getting Started

If you're reading this, it's likely that you live in San Mateo, CA - spend some time in Beresford Park and recognize the flower bed at the corner of 28th & Fernwood. You've also likely noticed that the flower beds are in need of some love.  Back a decade or so ago, the city had a full greenhouse operation that produced an abundance of annual flowers to fill flower beds across the city.  More recently, we owe a man named "DJ" much gratitude for the 10 years or so that he created the most amazing display of dahlias in the Beresford Park beds. (here's a link to a news article profiling "DJ The Dahlia Guy") Unfortunately for us, DJ ended up moving to Idaho a few years back. In his place, a father-daughter volunteer team took up the dahlia growing efforts. Their service has also come to an end, which gets us caught up to the present day.

Seeing the beds needing a bit of love, I inquired a few weeks back about their status and learned of the volunteer opportunity to take over their care.  So I signed up to take the beds on as a project and have been working with the landscape crew to figure out a plan.   More about this in a subsequent post, but first a bit of background.

All you really need to know about me is that I live close to the park - and know almost nothing about growing dahlias. My initial research led me to - a local chapter of the American Dahlia Society. As it turns out, the dahlia is the official flower of the city of San Francisco - who knew? My takeaway...there's a bit of knowledge needed - and a not so insignificant effort required - to grow dahlias. With DJ's departure we lost a dahlia expert. We miss you DJ.

Living in San Mateo through several drought years, you may have also noticed the trend toward "grass-less" landscapes. Terms like "water-wise", "drought resistant", "gray water" and "permaculture" came into prominence as we all were forced to rethink our use of water and the impact of maintaining a traditional green grass landscape.  Fortunately, the winter rains have wiped out the drought, but climate change remains top-of-mind and there is a clear sense of urgency to reduce the negative impact we humans are having on the environment.   Last week's #climatestrike was a great show of concern by the younger generations who will inherit what we've left behind.

Then, just last week, concern regarding the spraying of RoundUp in Beresford Park to control weeds ignited significant opposition and a lively debate on NextDoor.  While many were quick to voice their opposition to city leaders, a few actually raised their hand to volunteer to help out in the park doing manual weeding (once they are satisfied the risk of RoundUp has abated - which is largely a personal opinion from what I can tell).

All of the above has led to this point - the creation of "Grow San Mateo".  The goal is to use this destination to inform and communicate opportunities to participate in caring for the San Mateo landscape - starting with Beresford Park.


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