Tue07292014

Mountain View on the Move

Firefighter's green thumb produces stations lush garden


Laura Tang/Special to the Town Crier
Mike Robbins of the Mountain View Fire Department grows vegetables and fruit trees in the garden at Station No. 1 on Shoreline Boulevard.

When Mike Robbins was stationed at Mountain View Fire Department Station No. 1 at 251 S. Shoreline Blvd., he spotted an overgrown patch of weeds behind the firehouse and saw an opportunity to transform it into a flourishing garden.

His project has since attracted the attention of the surrounding community. The public is invited to take a walking garden tour 11:15 a.m. Saturday, starting from the Mountain View Public Library to Station No. 1.

Robbins cultivated his love of gardening from an early age.

“I helped my family garden in our yard not just as a hobby, but as part of the household,” he said. “Being part of that experience really helped me to grow, and when I had some time at the station, I started doing more of it.”

His green thumb carried over to his job at the station, where he constructed three 18-foot-by-4-foot beds.

New gardens have been sprouting in the other four Mountain View stations, where he and his co-workers cook meals with the fresh, seasonal produce.

“Initially, people were apprehensive, but when they saw the garden’s tangible effects, they became interested,” Robbins said.

Robbins attributes his success to techniques he learned from Love Apple Farms’ classes in Santa Cruz.

“Soften the soil deeper than you expect the roots to grow,” he said. “When roots aren’t prohibited, they can expand and pull in more nutrients, and you end up with productive growth.”

Another successful technique is growing flowers to attract bees that can increase plant pollination.

“I’ve created a self-sufficient ecosystem out of my garden and it has made a world of difference,” Robbins said.

Today, his garden thrives and people from around the community contribute. Robbins said he and his co-workers form a close-knit group, and the garden has become an important part of their home.

Saturday’s tour begins in the lobby of the library, 585 Franklin St. The walk to Station No. 1 will take approximately 10 minutes. To register, call 903-6337 or visit goo.gl/Li9Lo.

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