LEAF Center is Fremont’s only community garden, located inside the 20-acre California Nursery Historical Park owned by the City of Fremont. This site has historical significance because the California Nursery Company (CNC) was started here in the late 1800s by John Rock and then purchased by George C. Roeding in the early 1900s. CNC has a rich history associated with the evolution of the California nursery industry. It was the largest nursery establishment west of the Rockies. Innovative botanist Luther Burbank, known for his fruit trees and ornamentals, and plant breeder Albert Etter, known for his apple varieties, were both associated with this nursery. They were influential in CNC becoming the destination nursery for new fruit trees and plant varieties.
Today, the LEAF Center, in keeping with its past, is associated with growing plants. The 1/2 acre site is managed by Lisa and Brian Wills with the help of their son Caleb. There are 29 full-size and 24 half-size planters for rent, each filled with a soil mix customized for raised planters and automatically watered by drip irrigation. The gated community garden is fully ADA-accessible with planters available for rent to residents of Fremont, Newark, Union City and Sunol. It is also the site of the LEAF Earth Day Celebration, which educated and entertained over 1,000 volunteers and participants in 2019.
The LEAF Center remains open for members to tend their planters, practicing social distancing while maintaining the site and growing healthy produce.