Hands are always needed at the Binational Friendship Garden of Native Plants, a garden plot that connects through the US/Mexico border wall. At the garden, communities come together from both sides inside a space created for people to make friends across boundaries and promote native flora of our binational region. Everyone is welcome at the garden where volunteer groups large and small have helped over the years to maintain the garden and send our message that friendship and native flora have no borders. See below for the options and logistics of activities available.
The Binational garden is located inside Friendship Park, a space inaugurated in 1971 when then first lady Pat Nixon planted a tree to match the trees on the Mexican side and had her secret service cut the barbed wire fence so she could greet people across the border. The garden was planted inside the park when students from both sides of the border came together on March 7th, 2007 during a “Border encuentro” as a way to breach the gap for an environmental festival happening on the Mexican side. The garden grew and became large binational circles in 2012 to match the circle theme around the binational monument at the park. As the garden grew, the community grew around it and, despite restrictions to access on the US side, the garden has become a point of encounter on the Mexican side. Food justice groups and the local municipality in “Playas de Tijuana” have gotten involved and garden beds are maintained by the community for the homeless and hungry on the Mexican side. Access is still allowed on the US side in a controlled fashion and when volunteers are allowed in, the binational community works together through the border wall to improve the garden and create community without borders. The base garden volunteers depend heavily on visiting groups to make needed improvements to the garden and to maintain our symbolic space of unity and collaboration.
Via International can create three levels of cross-border activities for your group to choose from:
- Tour of the garden. Learn up close the purpose of the garden, it’s history, and importance to the region. Walk among the native flora and learn from native plant experts about the sample of flora in our garden and how it contributes to the larger unique ecosystem created by the combining of the Tijuana river and the sea. Learn the history and struggles it took to create a garden right at the US/Mexico border. The tour culminates with a visit to our “wish garden” where you write a wish on a rock inside the circle that connects through the border wall.
- Get your hands dirty. Literally thousands of volunteers have come in groups to work in our binational garden and we depend on groups like yours for our garden to thrive. This full day activity includes the tour and orientation of the garden listed above and work in one area that needs improvement. Activities can include things like repairing of a garden food bed and planting vegetables, harvesting with and for local migrants, planting natives in the binational garden, cleaning, and creating signs and small art projects in the garden.
- Design and create a brand new section of the garden. This is a three day activity. We work and get to know locals and the garden for about 4 hours a day and eat together in the garden on the last day. In addition to the activities above, groups can construct a food bed with a local food justice group, paint a mural on the border wall with local artists, or create a new section of native flora with artistic signs. This activity is a wonderful way to make friends and collaborate with locals and contribute the much needed creation of understanding across cultural barriers by working and creating something together.
Note – most activities are on the Tijuana side as the area is open to the public and the community is supportive. If your group can only participate on the US side, there are some activities available and you will have the opportunity to meet people and collaborate through the border wall inside the garden.