Azusa Community Garden takes root!

by Tim Hooten, M.Div and Matt Visser, M.Ed.

“For as the earth puts out buds, and as the garden gives growth to the seeds which are planted in it, so the Lord will make righteousness and praise to be flowering before all the nations.”--Isaiah 61:11

Four years ago, a small conversation with the Azusa City Manager started a journey toward a community garden. Several local community members, many from the Azusa Women’s club, dreamt of a Community Garden where plants, fruit and vegetables could grow and flourish. This summer, that dream has become a reality, thanks to the efforts of many individuals coming together around a common vision for a safe place to grow food and relationships.

In July of 2004, APU generously gave the Community Garden access to the plot of land. Grants and donations from the Rain Bird Co., the San Gabriel Mountains Regional Conservatory, the Lilly Foundation and the Glendora Conservation Society, as well as the financial support and expertise of many individuals, have moved us through the development of the environmentally friendly design you see here. The garden currently has about 10 families who have sponsored plots, and room remains for a few local elementary schools to build plots for ongoing educational use.


September, 2002
MAS Director Tim Hooten discusses the idea of a Community Garden with then Azusa City Manager Rick Cole and local community members.

March, 2003
Ann Croissant of the San Gabriel Mountains Regional Conservancy and Tim Hooten begin conversations that eventually lead to financial sponsorship of two student positions in MAS: A Community Garden coordinator and a Students for Environmental Education and Discovery (SEED), coordinator who would both develop a garden and develop an interactive science curriculum to be taught by APU students in local schools.

July, 2004
The Azusa Community Garden finds a home on APU’s West Campus near the soccer fields.

September, 2004
The Azusa Community Garden, with the support of Student Coordinator Sarah Nolan, ’05, gathers local stakeholders and learns from other local community gardens in the area. In collaboration with City Links, students and community members break ground to prepare the land for a garden.

January, 2005
The Community Garden receives a Lilly Mini-Grant for further garden development from the Office of Christian Leadership and Vocation.

July 2005
Our Neighborhood Homework House and APU students use the garden as a location for their summer program “Summer Splash” to teach about ecology and conservation.

September, 2005
Community members and students prepare garden plots and an irrigation system with the help of Anne Croissant and Randy Berk from Facilities Management.

June, 2006
Under the watchful care of student coordinator Tiffany Carter, ’07 in partnership with Michael and Jovie Benavides, community leaders, the Azusa Community Garden grows the first full fruits and vegetables.

Thank you to all those providing leadership and support for the development of the garden over the last few years. Many APU students, local children, and Azusa residents have contributed to the fruitful and laborious work of removing the shrubs that once reigned supreme on this humble little knoll, building the retaining wall, amending and tilling the soil, constructing the irrigation system and caring for the daily needs of the plants. Our latest student coordinator, Tiffany Carter, secured a local family to facilitate the garden while she is away for the summer, and MAS Associate Director Matt Visser and Director Tim Hooten had such pleasure connecting with them and enjoying the passion they have to keep this garden growing. As you can see, they are doing a fabulous job working alongside other local families to grow this garden into a beautiful oasis where food and relationships flourish.

If you want to stop by and see the garden for yourself, it is located between the former drive-in theater parking lot and the soccer fields at Azusa Square on APU’s West Campus. To hear more about the garden or to get connected, call the Office of Ministry and Service at (626) 815-6000 ext. 3530 or email Azusa Community Garden

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” --Iris Murdoch

"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses." --Abraham Lincoln