A “binational friendship garden” is situated between the United States and Mexico and has been a passion project of garden coordinator Daniel Watman for several years. The project is intended to motivate people to grow their own food while also providing food to people in need. Loma Beat conducted an interview with Watman about his experience and how he became a border activist.
Loma Beat: What is your job and how did you get involved with the garden?
Daniel Watman: I had a project back in the mid 2000s called “Border Encuentro” that looked for common interest themes on both sides of the border in order to hold events at Friendship Park with the purpose of making friends through the fence. We did salsa dancing lessons, yoga classes, language exchanges, sign language classes and other events. The garden was one of those common interest-themed events in March 2007 where a group of high school students from San Diego and a middle school in Tijuana came together to plant.
LB: What is the purpose of the garden and when was it created?
DW: My idea, and the garden’s purpose is to create a space where people can make friends through the border fence and collaborate to promote native flora of the region. Since then, the garden has become a spot of community involvement including the expansion of food beds by a local food justice group in 2015-16. Since the garden’s development, I have been a volunteer and the volunteer coordinator, so my job is to water and maintain both sides and coordinate volunteer efforts as well as give tours and help others do the same.
LB: Who can help out at the garden and when?
DW: Currently we have volunteer outings every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday on the U.S. side only and Saturday is both sides, although often just the U.S. side. Anyone is welcome to come learn and help.
LB: Are there any other specifics you would like to mention?
DW: The food beds have become a community project called “Realimenta Comunidad” that serves homeless and hungry that live in the nearby canyon and under the boardwalk. We have a team of volunteers that tend, harvest and plant. We are currently planting seeds in hopes to have a winter crop in a couple weeks.