Green thumbs up
As spring approaches, community gardens are alive and flourishing in Los Angeles.
Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 23:09
LET THE SUN SHINE: Urban agriculturalists welcome the arrival of spring. (Photo: Michael Hacker)
"B-E-E-T-S not B-E-A-T-S"
—Lyric from the song "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts," by X
As the vernal equinox approaches, gardeners in the Southland have already begun planting and doing the groundwork that will get their growing season off to a solid start. Here, some bright spots in the So Cal urban agriculture community ...
Sprouting: Seed Library of Los Angeles
Formed at the end of 2010, the Seed Library of Los Angeles (SLOLA) is L.A.'s first regional seed bank. SLOLA aims to protect local plants from genetically-engineered and genetically-modified seed contamination, and encourage open pollination through its seed library. SLOLA describes how the seed library will operate: "Members come to the library and borrow seed for their garden. They grow the plants and at the end of the season they leave a plant or two to 'go to seed.' From this plant, they collect seeds and return the same amount of seed (or more) ... No cost for seeds!"
SLOLA organizer and gardening instructor David King writes on the SLOLA blog that, "Saving our vegetable biodiversity today provides us with delicious open pollinated varieties that were bred to taste better, a wider range of vegetable varieties that aren't often available ... a safeguard against food shortages caused by natural or man-made disasters and a means to mitigate global climate change and its impact on agriculture."
Education and inspiration: The Learning Garden
At Venice High School, a plot of land that was once an under-utilized, weedy wasteland has been transformed over the course of a decade into a thriving garden and learning center that provides hands-on education in horticulture, permaculture, herbology, botany, nutrition, art, photography and environmental science. Those at the helm of The Learning Garden hope it can serve as "a model example of how school gardens can transform the lives of students and teachers and the environment of their community."
Special features in The Learning Garden include Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal plants, the tranquil Meditation Garden and Chi Patio, a California native garden as well as a cactus and succulent garden and a pond with a water garden and waterfall. (You can view photo galleries of The Learning Garden here.) All these delightful amenities are accessible to anyone interested in stopping by and getting their hands dirty!
Dispatches from the patches: L.A. Times gardening coverage
Community garden dispatches on the L.A. Times Urban Farming blog are a wonderful mid-week refresher. Every Wednesday, reporters share stories of urban agricultural endeavors throughout the region. It's encouraging to see the ingenuity and resourcefulness that the people involved with these gardens demonstrate, and to see them taking action to live a balanced, healthy life in the densely populated, fast-paced and complicated cities of the Southland.
A beautiful example of the open spirit many of these gardens hope to encourage is Proyecto Jardin, in Boyle Heights, which is truly communal: the garden does not contain any private plots or fences, and charges no fees. Community, in fact, is one of the four pillars of Proyecto Jardin; the others are healthful eating, exercise and herbal medicine.
If L.A.'s community gardens are any indication, urban agriculture is in full flower as we head into spring. Share your community garden photos, links or stories below!