Just off the intersection of three main Los Angeles freeways – the 405, 5, and 110 – lies a bit of soon to be green space and a big project. Now in the midst of construction, a new garden and urban farm will serve as a place of learning, experience, and pride for the surrounding community once it’s complete. Even in its early stages of construction, the soon-to-be food oasis is already serving its purpose of engaging and building community, as volunteers construct planting beds, pour recycled concrete steps, build an irrigation system, restore an old gazebo, and more. Some of the work is being done by members of the Young Adult Corps Program, a program of the LA Conservation Corps, which consists of troubled youth ages 18-24.
“The LA Conservation Corps has a long history of building community and school gardens as part of our Young Adult Corps Program, ” says Viki Goto, Project Manager. She added, “These projects are integral to our core mission because they not only provide the opportunity for our corps members to put their construction skills into practice, the experience also allows them to see a tangible benefit to their community that they created through their efforts, which are often physically demanding.”
The garden itself is located near several schools, including a preschool right next door. It will be used as an educational tool as well as an area for special events and other community gatherings. FarmWorks LA – a local nonprofit, will be lending personnel and expertise to the project, and they have even acquired a ‘Master Gardener’ to facilitate the gardening process. On the day of my visit, workers were constructing a holding pen for compost bins out of re-purposed wood pallets. There was also a cooking class, which I was informed that I “just missed”.
One of the main benefits of the garden will be providing nutrition and health education, as well as the actual produce grown on-site. Diabetes is a very real problem in the community, which is compounded by the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. This seems strange to me, since this is California – the land of milk and honey. But the fresh stuff just doesn’t quite make it to the inner city. Through the construction and continued upkeep of this garden, the LA Corps hope to improve the health and livelihood of the community.
Viki is pleased with the progress so far, and remarks that “Many of our corps members have already begun to apply their new knowledge to their own gardens at home.”
LA Corps is currently accepting donations, and are about halfway to their goal of $5,000.
East LA Garden
1001 Mott St.,
Los Angeles, CA 90023
Written By Alex Herrin, LoaTree intern