San Jose Community Garden

The Covid Pandemic shuttered most jobs and businesses in Naco for more than a year. Schools closed. By the summer of 2020, hunger was a problem citywide. Naco residents brainstormed solutions, and Naco Wellness launched the 1.5-acre San Jose Organic Community Garden when Naco businessman Tavo Martan offered a free land loan of four acres.

All NWI programming, fundraising, and building efforts flipped over to take advantage of the opportunity. 

In 2021, the first half-acre was planted. The fall harvest fed more than 300 families. In spring 2022, the garden size doubled, with 20 kinds of fruits and vegetables planted in rotating beds. The output fed 1,200 people.

Thanks to a $45,000 Arizona Community Foundation grant that year, Naco Wellness Initiative purchased the San Jose Garden site. 

“I can’t express how happy I was the day we bought the land that holds the San Jose Garden. I was so emotional, knowing that this wonderful earth was now ours. No one else could take it away. It’s our second home, and we gardeners will continue to work it with great passion, to be able to support and empower so many others in our town.”

-Norma Bernabe, NWI Garden Director

Interactive Garden Learning

Everyone involved in Naco Wellness Initiative gardening efforts receives instruction. Home gardeners are taught all aspects from soil prep and planting to disease and pest control, harvesting, seed harvesting, and food preservation.

Garden Development

Ten years ago, Naco Wellness Initiative launched its Family Gardens as an outgrowth of its health clinics. More than half of all Naco children and adults have chronic health issues, including diabetes and hypertension. Poor nutrition is a major cause.  To best help clinic patients, NWI needed to branch out and address the food supply. 

Food Harvest & Distribution

Through its two Casas Saludables clinics, Naco Wellness Initiative staff has contact
with nearly every family in Naco. Our staff also regularly interacts with school and
city government officials. Working with them, NWI has developed a list of more
than 300 needy Naco families.

Shortly after Naco residents began talking about a large communitywide garden, Naco Garden Director Norma Bernabe and local businessman Tavo Martan connected at a community event and then met at a four-acre plot of land Martan owned. “How much land would you need?” he asked. Norma stepped out an 80-meter square space.  Soon after, Naco resident volunteers began clearing and digging up the first half acre of the San Jose Organic Community Garden.

Ready to Grow?

San Jose Garden is growing fast and we need support more than ever. As we continue to cultivate the land, we are also cultivating lives and transforming the community around us. Do you want to be a part of our journey? Become a Friend of Naco!