Mike HornickShawn Bakker, left, and 2-1/2 year old Tatum Bakker break ground Sept. 5 on Tatum's Garden, a Salinas, Calif., playground with fruit and vegetable themes. The project is named for Tatum Bakker.SALINAS, Calif. — Construction has begun on Tatum’s Garden, a playground with fruit and vegetable themes backed by Salinas Valley grower-shippers and agribusinesses.
Beyond the high profile of produce in such features as a strawberry shortcake cottage and a broccoli tree house, plans for the park on Maryal Drive in Salinas aim to appeal to children with disabilities.
When it’s completed around Sept. 15, Tatum’s Garden will offer the usual playground attractions — monkey bars, climbing walls and the like. But in and around that will be features accommodating children with autism, visual or hearing impairments, or in wheelchairs.
Amanda Bakker, mother of the park namesake Tatum Bakker, said the goal is inclusiveness.
“It includes children of all abilities and all differing disabilities as well,” she said at a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 5.
Her 2-1/2-year old daughter Tatum has spina bifida. Tatum’s parents — Shawn Bakker is her father — were inspired by a similar park they saw in Colorado.
Susan Miller, executive support manager at Naturipe Berry Growers Inc., and administrative assistant Kriste Cortez presented Naturipe’s $10,000 donation for the strawberry shortcake cottage at the groundbreaking.
More than 40 industry companies have contributed to a communitywide fundraising effort. They include Taylor Farms, D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, Growers Express, The Nunes Co., Mann Packing Co., Red Blossom Sales and NH3 Service Co.
So far, about $700,000 of the $1 million construction cost has been raised. Contributions are handled by the nonprofit Salinas Circle for Children. Donations can be made at the Tatum’s Garden website.