Community Garden Bulletins
Save the Los Angeles Urban Garden at 41st and Alameda
October 26, 2003
1. What's going on?
Gardeners at the LA Community Garden have been informed that the garden, is going to be closing at the end of the year. Local farmers have been working the 1st lot for over 12 years and the second lot for over 8 years. Every plot has been invested with great effort to make them productive. This has included the introduction of organic matter, fertilizers, fencing, diversified seed stock, and most importantly, hard labor.
Currently, there are approximately 368 garden plots on 14 acres. These plots supplement the food purchases of the farmers and their families while additionally providing their surplus to the local residents.
Vernon, a city the size of 5.16 square miles, where the urban garden is located, has been made up of mainly industrial warehouses and low- income residents. The median income in Vernon is $16,250. Families must often rely on alternative strategies to provide for their food needs. Those have been able to get an urban garden plot have come to rely heavily on the productivity of their land to supplement the family caloric intake. A family can easily cut a 1/3 of the grocery bill by working the garden plot. Many farmers also sell some of their produce to local residents to supplement their income. Residents who are not able to get a garden plot frequently rely on the other farmers as a source of food.
It is the resolve of the urban farmers that they have invested over a decade in making fallow ground extremely productive. Rumors have been offered that relocation would be an option to the farmers, but where in Los Angeles County will you find 13.66 acres of contiguous land just waiting for marginalized people? Clearly, it seems easier to relocate warehouses than living plants and trees that have taken years to grow and make productive.
The gardeners resolve to persevere at the current location.
Please help inform the politicians about your support for the gardeners.
Please contact the following people and let them know we don't want to lose our garden!!!!
Councilwoman Jan Perry
200 N. Spring Street
Suite 420 City Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Mayor James K. Hahn
Constituent Service Department
200 N. Spring Street, Room 303
Los Angeles, CA 90012
3. Please sign our online petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/lagarden/petition.html
Coming soon: WWW.SAVEOURGARDEN.COM
Committee to Save the Los Angeles Urban Garden @ 41st and Alameda.
3. SAVE OUR GARDEN STRATEGY MEETING
4607 So. Main st. on Wednesday at 6:30 pm....(this is the public library). We are bringing together the South Central Coalition and the gardeners.
October 18, 2003
L.A. Needs These Oases
The heaps of brilliant yellow-orange squash flowers Alejandro Morales had just harvested spilled out of two boxes. "We like to eat them," said the 32-year-old father of three, "and I share with my neighbors." Most mornings Morales tends the corn, fruit trees and melons on his plot at the city's largest community garden. The produce he and his wife grow adds fresh food to family meals. But Morales, who drives an ice cream truck, says he comes as much for the fresh air, the soothing greenery and the chirping birds ? all rare in the city's truck-choked industrial heart. This leafy oasis in South Los Angeles is in jeopardy at a moment when the city needs more such refuges.
Some 300 urban farmers spade the soil at 41st and Alameda streets, a garden created 11 years ago by the Los Angeles Food Bank. Most are poor immigrants like Morales and Maria Navarro, who uses the aloe and alfalfa leaves she grows to ease back pains and stomach troubles.
City planners often labor mightily to create the happy alchemy ? the mingling of people of different ages and cultures ? that blooms spontaneously at this site. No public money went into the creation of the garden.
But neither is the 13-acre garden generating much in property tax revenue for the county or income for its owner, developer Ralph Horowitz. Howoritz owned the site in the mid-1980s when the city condemned it for a trash-burning plant. When local residents killed that plan, the city lent the land to the food bank for a community garden. The original gardeners, the food bank and city officials all knew the arrangement was temporary.
Horowitz has since reacquired the site and plans to build warehouses, creating jobs in a community with 50% unemployment. He's also agreed to donate space for soccer fields or other recreation uses.
Morales, Navarro and the others know they will probably have to leave by Dec. 1. They want to stay. They've petitioned their council member, Jan Perry, to get the city or a nonprofit agency to buy the land. Perry says that's "highly unlikely."
It's unlikely as well that they will find another vacant site as large as this one for a new garden. Most of the 60 community gardens around Los Angeles are just an acre or two. But if she works with the growing network of creative open space activists, Perry can find new homes for these enterprising green thumbs. At Perry's request, the city will quickly identify other potential garden sites ? vacant government land or land that the public could buy. The Trust for Public Land has a strong track record of doing these deals, and a new Neighborhood Oasis Land Trust, focusing on local greening projects, is just getting organized. If nothing else, the garden should remind us how important these urban havens are to all residents.
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