Dig in at Truckee Demonstration Garden

Slow Food Lake Tahoe has managed the Truckee Demonstration Garden for the last three years. Located in the Truckee Regional Park, the garden operates to educate and serve the community by teaching workshops and classes and growing vegetables, herbs and fruit.


Katie Townsend-Merino, the garden manager, started overseeing the garden this year. After suffering from a series of health issues, Merino decided to make some life changes. These included mindfulness meditation, eating organic whole foods and living in a place that she loved. A former psychology professor and college dean, Merino worked in the Bay Area before moving to Truckee.

“The fenced-in garden has four brand-new, elevated, raised beds
and two long beds. Additional raised beds, an herb garden
and greenhouse host veggies of all sorts.”

The project is experimental on numerous levels. Learning what grows best in the Tahoe area and how to keep the critters from finding their way into the garden have been a few of the challenges Merino has faced. As she toured the garden, she became excited by the bees buzzing around the raspberry plants.

The fenced-in garden has four brand-new, elevated, raised beds and two long beds. Additional raised beds, an herb garden and greenhouse host veggies of all sorts. The Rotary Club of Truckee spent a day working in the garden and helped build the new beds. Many local businesses help the garden with donations, and the garden in turn donates all of the produce to the Sierra Senior Services and Meals on Wheels program that prepares 60 to 70 meals per day.

“This is a great partnership. People feel like working on the garden has meaning,” explains Merino of volunteers that help in the garden. “The produce is organic and nutrient dense.”

Slow Food Lake Tahoe and the demonstration garden partnered with the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Lake Tahoe and UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center and other local experts to offer several educational workshops throughout the summer. Jessie Philips, president of Slow Food Lake Tahoe, explains, “Through our partnerships, we plan to offer 12 to 15 classes this year.”



Some of the upcoming workshops include a Tasty Tea class, using native plants that grow in Tahoe, a dandelion workshop and Arnica workshop.

Merino will offer a number of workshops, as well, including a Food as Medicine class and Mindful Gardening class where participants will learn how to pay attention and meditate while sitting, moving and gardening. The classes are free and open to all and donations are appreciated.

Another event the organization hosts is the High Sierra Edible Garden Tour. They will lead participants in and around Truckee’s most interesting gardens.

Get your dig in at a monthly Community Dig-In, which occur on the last Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers work together demolishing old garden beds, building new beds, pruning, weeding, planting, transplanting, netting fruit trees, painting and whatever is needed to make the garden thrive.

“Volunteers are always welcome and no experience is required. You can learn as you go. Come for a few hours or more, meet people who are interested in good, clean and fair food systems, have some fun and support your community garden,” says Merino. “The Slow Food mission is close to my heart.”

For more information or to volunteer, visit slowfoodlaketahoe.org.