Bay Area students break ground on Vallejo meditation garden on MLK Day
Armed with shovels, pickaxes and wheelbarrows, 11 fellows with the San Francisco Bay Area Albert Schweitzer Fellowship were on Mare Island Monday afternoon to break ground on a meditation garden.
Coming from a variety of school backgrounds, from Stanford to the University of California, Berkeley and Vallejo’s Touro University, these fellows took the time to take part in the beginning stages of the new garden.
As part of the Albert Schweitzer fellowship, these students plan projects that help serve the community. Melissa Belec is a student at Touro University working on nutrition education at the Global Center for Success and the others in the program worked on their own projects benefitting different groups in the Bay Area.
Monday’s gathering of the fellows is just another part of the group’s mission to serve the community and the students took the time to be together, while working on a group project that can benefit others.
“It’s Martin Luther King Day and he was such a big public figure for service and social justice, that being able to channel his vision in this small way is important for us,” Stanford medical student and Schweitzer fellow, Steve Ko, said.
“We don’t get to see each other often, so any chance that we get to do something together is pretty special and meaningful,” Ko added.
Funded in part by the Participatory Budget, the meditation garden will be both a place for locals to sit and reflect, but to also learn how to build smaller, vegetable container gardens or drought-tolerant yards.
Meriel Melendrez, education and development coordinator with the Vallejo People’s
Garden, helped to develop a plan for the space bordering the building for the Global
Center for Success. Touring the garden space, Melendrez planned for the garden to
incorporate a number of functional and practical plants, including apple trees, rosemary,
lavender, succulents and native plants.
“With the drought in California, people need to be a lot more aware of what they’re planting and so most of this garden will be a drought-resistant, native California plant garden,” Melendrez said.
“It will be very beautiful, but it will also be functional in that it won’t have a huge water bill.”
The rear part of the garden will feature tables and benches for learning how to put together container gardens. “We want to show people how they can build containers and use found objects and grow a lot of food in a small space,” Melendrez said.
Although the garden is still in progress, the work that the fellows contributed on Monday is a unique start to the project, incorporating students that may not otherwise have a chance to work in Vallejo. This garden is just one part of the 200 hours of required volunteer work, and also a small part of the nearly 20,000 hours of community service the San Francisco Bay Area Albert Schweitzer Fellowship programs has already contributed to Northern California.
“They’re motivated to do this, that’s one of the reasons (students) apply to this fellowship in the first place,” Schweitzer program director, Dale Ogar, said. “It’s a really difficult fellowship. It’s a lot of hard work in addition to this incredibly rigorous academic load they carry.
“One of the reasons that they love this fellowship is because this is the kind of stuff they really want to be doing. ... The opportunity for them to get out and do work in the community is a real gift to them. They love it.”
To find out more about the San Francisco Bay Area Albert Schweitzer Program, visit www.sfbayareaschweitzerfellowship.org. To learn more about the Vallejo People’s Garden, visit www.vallejopeoplesgarden.org.
Contact Dianne de Guzman at 707-553-6833.
Bay Area Albert Schweitzer Fellows construct a meditation garden behind the Global Center for Success on Mare Island during a day of service on Monday. CHRIS RILEY—VALLEJO TIMES-HERALD
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