Have a Green Thumb?
Come plant in a garden that unites through the border!
Schedule Spring/Summer 2021
Let us know if you want to lend a hand! / Déjanos saber si quieres ayudar!
Mexico side only
Wednesdays 7-9 am
3rd Saturdays are binational days with volunteers on both sides working together in circles that connect through the wall.
Friday two weeks after the 3rd Sat 8-11a
example: Outing on 3rd Sat April 17th to be followed by outing on Friday April 30th
Other dates to be announced.
Miércoles 7-9 am
Sábados 8-11am (tercer sábado del mes binacional)
Un viernes al mes 8-11a jornada binacional (siempre dos semanas después del tercer sábado binacional, en abril es viernes 2 y viernes 30
Otras fechas por anunciar.
Tending to and learning about native flora within binational circles that connect through the border wall
Caring for food garden beds on the Mexican side
Making friends and collaborating across barriers!
Contact Dan Watman for more info!
Visit the garden on Facebook
About the Garden
As we work toward a truly binational park, the Friends of Friendship Park propose the restoration of unrestricted public access to three locations: the historic Monument 258, the beach below Monument Mesa, and the Binational Friendship Garden of Native Plants. The garden's dual purpose is to create a space where people can make friends through the border wall and to promote the native flora of our region.
Located inside of Friendship Park about 100 yards directly East of the Historical monument and plaza along the US/MX border, the garden was started in March of 2007 as a Border encuentro event during the Salvemos la Playa beach cleaning environmental festival. Students from El Colegio de Tijuana gathered with students from Kearny Mesa High School in San Diego to plan the original rectangular plot.
In the following years, the garden overcame many obstacles striving to create a light of hope through connection between people and with the earth in the shadow of the wall and a US policy of ever more separation and isolation at the border. See Dan Watman's personal account of the history of the garden through 2011.
While US Border Patrol made preparations for a new primary barrier near the end of 2011, a team of landscape architects, native plant experts, gardeners, and enthusiastic volunteers stored the plants in nurseries on either side of the border and got together to take advantage of the new slate and create a new design made up of bi-national circles bisected by the primary barrier. The new design was implemented by the community in 2012 making a bigger more beautiful garden to someday overcome the now bigger uglier border wall. It is one garden that belongs to the people of both Tijuana and San Diego (as opposed to two separate gardens, US and Mexican).
Each circle was planted with a theme. The first and main circle the "Mirror Garden" as, originally, the same species were planted on either side of the wall inside the circle. The second circle is the "Yellow Flower" garden where most of the natives produce yellow flowers. The last circle is the Cactus/Wish garden. It is made up of strictly succulents, cacti and rocks. Come visit this garden and write a wish on a rock! Another symbolic element of the garden design was the "White Sage River" which consisted of a white sages (Salvia Apiana) that "S" through all three circles back and forth across the border to imitate the Tijuana river and raise awareness about its preservation.
At the end of 2015, the Binational Friendship Garden team on the Mexican side joined forces with a local food justice group called Cultiva Ya! to create a food program at the garden called Realimenta Comunidad. Cultiva Ya! gave one of their two day day workshops on how to grow your own food and, as part of the workshop, the participants built two raised food beds to the West of the garden with the purpose of raising awareness around growing your own food and providing food for homeless and hungry living in the nearby canyon and under the beach boardwalk. The program produced around 60 salads every Sunday to compliment the food that the border church would prepare. With this success, we decided to repeat the workshops and built eight more food beds throughout 2016 stretching along more than half the border wall. Realimenta comunidad brought more attention and volunteers to the garden on the Mexican side and the community around continued to grow with the new vegetables and the original native plants.
Complete destruction on US side
From 2012 on, restrictions to access to the garden became gradually greater going from access during open hours at the park to short 5 min visits for the public and only scheduled volunteers that had to be vetted beforehand, to, in March of 2018 a complete prohibition of access. Through negotiation, volunteers were allowed back in and short tours were again allowed by the end of the year and throughout most of 2019 and the garden continued to grow and flourish on both sides through the wall. Although access for the public was far from ideal, volunteers were allowed which kept the hope alive that the public would one day be able to access the garden freely enjoying the native flora and making friends with the growing community on the Mexican side through the wall. In Jan of 2020, with no warning whatsoever, San Diego Border Patrol arrived with bulldozers and demolished the entire US portion of the garden. They removed all 120 plants that now had roots as deep as 30 ft, a 500 pound eco-bench, a heavy duty information sign and all pathways leading out the garden. Half of the beautiful binational garden that took thousands of community volunteer work to build and years of growth in unison with the Mexican half was destroyed in a span of a couple hours. Outrage and sadness from the community ensued after pictures of the bulldozers were captured by the parking guards through the wall from the mexican side and posted on social media and picked up by local and national/international media outlets. Border Patrol apologized and allowed the community on the US side to have a highly supervised partial replanting to recreate the circles just 2 weeks later with baby transplants.
Current Status in 2020
The silver lining to the destruction was community support. The word spread wider than ever about the garden and there were now many more people wanting to support the garden efforts. Throughout January, February and most of March, the amount of groups wanting to help in the garden increased from maybe one group of 10-30 volunteers a month to one or two per week! Most work was done on the Mexican side as restrictions were still in place on the US side despite making some exceptions to allow for the replanting. Soon after, came the Corona Virus and the garden was all but abandoned for the months of April and May. In June, the format started changing for volunteers. Instead of relying on large groups, we have had to work in small teams of 3-5. We managed to convince SD Border Patrol to allow a small group in on the US side on two occasions throughout June and July and were able to work together on both sides through the wall on those days. Border Patrol has promised one more outing in August. About 40% of the newly planted natives on the US side survived. The small teams on the Mexican side go out every Wed and Sun and the garden is starting to come back to life. Natives grow slowly, so there will be a notable discrepancy between the two sides for at least one more year. The fate of the garden is up in the air as there are currently plans to replace the primary barrier that runs through it with a more fortified wall which would demolish the plants again on the US side and some on the Mexican side. We’re hopeful that the garden can somehow be saved from this destruction. As it once again becomes more and more beautiful and contributes ever more to the native habitat of our unique binational ecosystem, we hope that the garden and its surrounding communities will overcome the threats of division with friendship and collaboration and that this iconic part of Friendship Park will serve as leverage for the campaign to “Build that Park” creating a truly binational space that will change the narrative of separation and division to friendship, trust, and collaboration to create security and restore our environment reminding us of the original stewards of the land, the Kumiay Indians who did not look at the land as belonging to us but rather us belong to the land..